Joseph Smith’s New York Reputation Reexamined
by Rodger I. Anderson
[p.152] The Arthur B. Deming New York Affidavits From: Naked Truths About Mormonism (Oakland, California), Volumes 1 (January 1888) and 2 (April 1888) (Arranged Alphabetically According to Surname of Testator)
1. Mrs. S. F. Anderick
I was born in New York State near the Massachusetts line, May 7, 1809. In 1812 my parents moved to a farm two miles from the village, and in the township of Palmyra, New York. In 1823 mother died, and I went to her sister’s, Mrs. Earl Wilcox, where I lived much of the time until December, 1828, when I went to live with father who had again married and settled on a farm on the Holland Patent, twenty miles west of Rochester, New York. Uncle Earl’s farm was four miles south of Palmyra village, and his house was nearly opposite old Jo Smith’s, father of the Mormon prophet. Old Jo was dissipated. He and his son Hyrum worked some at coopering. Hyrum was the only son sufficiently educated to teach school. I attended when he taught in the log schoolhouse east of uncle’s. He also taught in the Stafford District. He and Sophronia were the most respected of the family, who were not much thought of in the community. They cleared the timber from only a small part of their farm, and never paid for the land. They tried to live without work. I have often heard the neighbors say they did not know how the Smiths lived, they earned so little money. The farmers who lived near the Smiths [p.153] had many sheep and much poultry stolen. They often sent officers to search the premises of the Smiths for stolen property, who usually found the house locked. It was said the creek near the house of the Smiths was lined with the feet and heads of sheep. Uncle’s children were all sons, and they played with Smith’s younger children, I associated much with Sophronia Smith, the oldest daughter, as she was the only girl near my age who lived in our vicinity. I often accompanied her, Hyrum, and young Jo Smith, who became the Mormon prophet, to apple parings and parties. Jo was pompous, pretentious and active at parties. He claimed, when a young man, he could tell where lost or hidden things and treasures were buried or located with a forked witch hazel. He deceived many farmers, and induced them to dig nights for chests of gold, when the pick struck the chest, someone usually spoke, and Jo would say the enchantment was broken, and the chest would leave.
Williard Chase, a Methodist who lived about two miles from uncle’s, while digging a well, found a gray smooth stone about the size and shape of an egg. Sallie, Williard’s sister, also a Methodist, told me several times that young Jo Smith, who became the Mormon prophet, often came to inquire of her where to dig for treasures. She told me she would place the stone in a hat and hold it to her face, and claimed things would be brought to her view. Sallie let me have it several times, but I never could see anything in or through it. I heard that Jo obtained it and called it a peep-stone, which he used in the place of the witch hazel. Uncle refused to let Jo dig on his farm. I have seen many holes where he dug on other farms.
When Jo joined the Presbyterian Church, in Palmyra village, it caused much talk and surprise, as he claimed to receive revelations from the Lord. He also claimed he found some gold plates with characters on them, in a hill between uncle’s and father’s, which I often crossed. Several times I saw what he claimed were the plates, which were covered with a cloth. They appeared to be six or eight inches square. He frequently carried them with him. I heard they kept them under the brick hearth. He was from home much summers. Sometimes he [p.154] said he had been to Broome County, New York, and Pennsylvania. Several times while I was visiting Sophronia Smith at old Jo’s house, she told me that a stranger who I saw there several times in warm weather and several months apart, was Mr. Rigdon. At other times the Smith children told me that Mr. Rigdon was at their house when I did not see him. I did not read much in the “Book of Mormon” because I had no confidence in Jo. Palmyra people claimed that Jo did not know enough to be the author of the “Book of Mormon,” and believed that Rigdon was its author. I was acquainted with most of the people about us, and with Martin Harris.
On my way to California I stopped in Salt Lake City from July, 1852, until March, 1853. I received much attention from Mormon ladies because I was acquainted, and had danced with their prophet.
[Signed.] Mrs. S. F. ANDERICK.
MRS. I. A. ROGERS (Daughter)
OSCAR G. ROGERS (Grandson).
Subscribed and sworn before F. S. Baker, Notary Public for Monterey County, California, June 24, 1887.
2. Isaac Butts
I was born in Palmyra, N.Y., near where old Jo Smith settled, January 4, 1807. I attended school with Prophet Jo. His father taught me to mow. I worked with old and young Jo at farming. I have frequently seen old Jo drunk. Young Jo had a forked witch-hazel rod with which he claimed he could locate buried money or hidden things. Later he had a peep-stone which he put into his hat and looked into it. I have seen both. Joshua Stafford, a good citizen, told me that young Jo Smith and himself dug for money in his orchard and elsewhere nights. All the money digging was done nights. I saw the holes in the orchard [p.155] which were four or five feet square and three or four feet deep. Jo and others dug much about Palmyra and Manchester. I have seen many of the holes. The first thing he claimed to find was gold plates of the “Book of Mormon,” which he kept in a pillowcase and would let people lift, but not see. I came to Ohio in 1818, and became acquainted with Sydney Rigdon in 1820. He preached my brother’s funeral sermon in Auburn, O., in May, 1822. I returned to Palmyra twice and resided there about two years each time. Many persons whom I knew in New York joined the Mormons and came to Kirtland. They told me they saw Sidney Rigdon much with Jo Smith before they became Mormons, but did not know who he was until they came to Kirtland.
[Signed.] ISAAC BUTTS.
South Newbury, Geauga Co, O.
3. W. R. Hine
I was born February 11, 1803, at Colesville, Windsor Township, Broome County, N.Y. Jo Smith, who became the Mormon prophet, and his father came from Palmyra, or Manchester, N.Y., and dug for salt two summers, near and in sight of my house. The old settlers used to buy salt from an Indian squaw, who often promised to tell the whites where the salt spring was, but she never did. Jo Smith claimed to be a seer. He had a very clear stone about the size and shape of a duck’s egg, and claimed that he could see lost or hidden things through it. He said he saw Captain Kidd sailing on the Susquehanna River during a freshet, and that he buried two pots of gold and silver. He claimed he saw writing cut on the rocks in an unknown language telling where Kidd buried it, and he translated it through his peep-stone. I have had it many times and could see in it whatever I imagined. Jo claimed it was found in digging a well in Palmyra, N.Y. He said he borrowed it. He claimed to receive revelations from the Lord through prayer, and would pray with his men, mornings and at other times. His father told me he was fifteen years old. I called him half-witted. He was miserably clad, coarse [p.156] and awkward. He had men who did the digging and they and others would take interests. Some would lose faith and others would take their places. They dug one well thirty feet deep and another seventy-five at the foot and south side of the Aquaga Mountain, but found no salt.
My nephew now owns the land he dug on. Asa Stowel furnished the means for Jo to dig for silver ore, on Monument Hill. He dug over one year without success. Jo dug next for Kidd’s money, on the west bank of the Susquehanna, half a mile from the river, and three miles from his salt wells. He dug for a cannon the Indians had buried, until driven away by the owner of the land. He dug for many things and many parties, I never knew him to find anything of value. He and his workmen lived in a shanty while digging for salt. When it rained hard, my wife has often made beds for them on the floor in our house. Jo became known all over New York and Pennsylvania. Sometimes his brothers were with him. Isaac Hale, a good Methodist, lived seven miles below me on the river. I often stopped with him when rafting. I have attended many prayer-meetings at his house, evenings. Emma was fine looking, smart, a good singer, and she often got the power. Jo stole his wife, Sunday, while Hale was at church. My wife and I saw him on an old horse with Emma on behind as they passed our house on their way to Bainbridge, N.Y., where they were married.
Jo and his father were all the time telling of hidden things, lead, silver and gold mines which he could see. I called him Peeker. About the spring of 1828, Jo came in front of my house where several men were pitching quoits. I said, “Peeker, what have you found?” He said he had found some metal plates which would be of great use to the world. He had them in a box in a handkerchief which he carried in one hand. I said, “Let me see them.” Jo Smith said they must first be sent to Philadelphia to be translated. He said the only man in the world who could translate them lived there. After they were translated the world could see them. Calvin Smith, whose farm joined mine, said with an oath, he would see them. Jo said if he laid his hands on him he would prosecute him. I told Calvin he better not. Since I [p.157] have seen the conduct of the Mormons, I have many times regretted that I interfered. Citizens wrote to parties in Philadelphia, where Jo said he had sent the plates and word was returned they had not received them. Jo said they could not be translated in Philadelphia and they had been sent to New York City. Justice N. K. Nobles wrote to New York and could learn nothing about them. Soon I learned that Jo claimed to be translating the plates in Badger’s Tavern, in Colesville, three miles from my house. I went there and saw Jo Smith sit by a table and put a handkerchief to his forehead and peek into his hat and call out a word to Cowdery, who sat at the same table and wrote it down. Several persons sat near the same table and there was no curtain between them. 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. Calvin Smith and I, while burning brush, found a hole which, when cleaned out, was [p.158] fifteen feet deep; it was covered with poles which had been split with tomahawks; a tree near by was marked each side for seventy feet. Gun barrels and various Indian implements were found later near by. The hole was within twenty rods of Jo’s salt digging. Newel Knight, who lived a few miles from me was brought before Justice N. K. Nobles as a witness for reporting Prophet Jo Smith had cast three devils out of him. Knight testified the first was as large as a wood chuck, the second was as large as a squirrel, the third about the size of a rat. Noble inquired what became of them. Knight said that they went out at the chimney. Jo was discharged. Noble told me later that it made his heart ache to hear the puppy swear. This occurred during the pretended translation of the plates. I met Prophet Jo’s father on the dock at Fairport, O., in July, 1831. He inquired if I came on in the Mormon faith, I replied that I did: a crowd soon gathered about us. One of them asked what my faith was. I said the Mormons were the damd’st set of liars and scoundrels I ever knew. My reply caused a shout from many on the dock. We all took a drink.
I rented Claudius Stannard’s farm and stone quarry, two miles south of the temple in Kirtland. (Before I rented the quarry, a combination had been formed not to let the Mormons have any stone). I quarried and sold the Mormons the stone used in the construction of the temple, except a few of the large ones which came from Russell’s quarry. Prophet Jo and his father frequently talked over with me their experience along the Susquehanna. Jo could scarcely read or write when he lived in New York. He had a private teacher in Kirtland and obtained a fair education. While the temple was building the workmen lived in temporary buildings. Prayer meetings were held mornings by the workmen for the success of the work before beginning their labors. One day while I was at the Flats, a meeting was held in which the Spiritual Wife Doctrine was discussed. Rigdon said if he had got to go into it he might as well begin. He put Emma, Jo Smith’s wife, on the bed and got on himself. Jo became angry. It was in everybody’s mouth for miles about Kirtland. When I first saw Emma on the streets in Kirtland, she threw her arms around me and I think kissed me, and inquired all about her father’s [p.159] family. I brought her letters and took some later to Mr. Hale from her. Jo told Emma he had a revelation about the plates, but that he could not obtain them until he had married her. I became acquainted with D. P. Hurlbut before he left the Mormons. He courted Dr. Williams’ beautiful daughter, and told her he had a revelation to marry her; she told him when she received a revelation they would be married. Everybody about Kirtland believed he had left the Mormons because she refused him. Other Mormons and Black Pete claimed to receive revelations to marry her. I was often in Hurlbut’s company, and once while fishing with him on Lake Erie, after he had left the Mormons, he told me he was going to ferret out Mormonism and break it up; I replied you had better break up a nest of yellow jackets. I told him I knew the Mormons in New York State would as soon swear to a lie as to the truth. Later I told Hurlbut to write to Isaac Hale, Jo’s father-in-law, and he did.
Hale’s reply is published in Howe’s “Book on Mormonism.” I heard Hurlbut lecture in the Presbyterian Church in Kirtland. He said he would, and he did prove that the “Book of Mormon” was founded on a fiction called “Manuscript Found,” written by Solomon Spaulding, at Conneaut, Ohio, in the early part of the century. He said Spaulding was consumptive and could not work, and wrote stories to procure a living. He said he had seen Mrs. Spaulding, and she said a good share of the “Book of Mormon” was the same as “Manuscript Found,” which was written by her husband, Solomon Spaulding. Spaulding’s brother asked him, as he was an educated man, why he wrote in old style. He said his title was “Manuscript Found” and therefore he wrote it in old style. Hurlbut said Spaulding tried to obtain money to pay for printing it. While traveling he slept in the woods nights, took cold and finally died. Sydney Rigdon stole the copy left with the printer in Pittsburgh. Hurlbut had a copy of Spaulding’s “Manuscript Found” with him. He and others spoke three hours. Hurlbut read Hale’s letter in the lecture. Martin Harris said Hale was old and blind and not capable of writing it. I stated that Hale was called the greatest hunter on the Susquehanna, and two years before had killed a black deer and a white bear, which [p.160] many hunters had tried to kill, also that he was intelligent and knew the Scriptures. The night the meteors fell in 1833, the Mormons sent men on horseback for miles about Kirtland to arouse the people. They got me up at three o’clock A.M., they claimed it was the fore-runner of some wonderful event, and it was said and believed. Prophet Jo said there would be no more stars seen in the heavens. All the time I was in Kirtland many persons were becoming disgusted with Mormonism, and many left them and exposed their secrets. Squire J. C. Dowen lived half a mile from me, he was physically and mentally a capable man. His reputation as a citizen was very good. This statement was read to me and my daughter before being signed. I heard Hurlbut lecture before, and after he saw Spaulding’s widow.
W. R. HINE X.
A. B. Deming
Chester, Geauga County, Ohio
4. Joseph Rogers
I was born in Wester, Oneida Co., N.Y., Feb. 10, 1805. Our family moved to Phelpstown a few miles south of Palmyra, N.Y., in 1815, where I resided until 1842. I was often in Palmyra, and was well acquainted with Jo Smith, who became the Mormon prophet. When a young man he claimed to receive revelations from the Lord where treasures were buried. He told Peter Rupert and Mr. Cunningham, a blacksmith (simple-minded old men), that there was a chest of gold buried on my brother-in-law, Henry Murphy’s farm, under a beech tree. Henry’s younger brother, Jack, said that must be stopped, and he obtained some filth in a sap bucket and got up in the beech tree before they arrived in the evening. They came and Mr. Rupert held the Bible open and a lighted candle as prophet Jo directed, while Peter dug for the chest of gold. Jack called Peter three times and he looked up and said, “Here am I, Lord,” and received the filth in [p.161] his face. Peter told me and others that the Lord chastised him and he had to stop his digging. He said he paid Jo for the information. I told him he ought not to believe Jo, for he was liar and imposter. He said Jo would put a spell on him and that he would have to stand still two weeks. He said Jo had perfect command over men. He believed he was a prophet. Jack was called Lord Murphy afterwards. There were many others similarly duped by Jo. Many of Jo’s victims were from New Jersey and believed in witches and ghosts. He could not fool the New England or York State Yankees. Jo Smith and his adherents dug a cave in a hill in Manchester, N.Y., and used to go there, he said, to consult with the Lord. He had a door at the entrance fastened with a padlock. The sheriff took possession and found much property which had been stolen from farmers about there. Jo had left for Ohio. It was believed that Jo intended to remove the property.
I had the affidavits of six creditable farmers who lived in Manchester, N.Y., that Jo Smith, who became the Mormon prophet, stole their chickens and sheep. I lost them moving. Farmers said he was a terror to the neighborhood and that he would either have to go to State prison, be hung, or leave the county, or he would be killed. Jo contrived in every way to obtain money without work. The farmers claimed that not a week passed without Jo stole something. I knew at least one hundred farmers in the towns of Phelps, Manchester and Palmyra, N.Y., who would make oath that Jo Smith the Mormon prophet was a liar, intemperate and a base imposter. His father, old Jo, was called a devil. He was very intemperate, profane and vulgar in conversation. Jo, the prophet, said much about his troubles with the devil and that he, the devil, got the better of him much of the time. Jo traveled about the country considerable and was well known.
While visiting my uncle, Jacob Wiggins, in Western, Oneida Co., N.Y., I attended a Mormon meeting in a schoolhouse about three miles north of Rome, N.Y. The preacher spoke about twenty minutes and then introduced a woman who would speak in the unknown tongue. She said, “Feel of me low, feel of me lee, feel of me li.” A man by the door got up and said, “By —— I can interpret it: Feel of my toe, feel of my knee, feel of my [p.162] thigh. That is what she means,” and left the room. He was under the influence of liquor. It caused so much laughter it stopped the meeting. My uncle always laughed when I asked him about the unknown tongue. My uncle knew the interpreter. I was informed by three or four creditable parties who were at a public house in the town of Pittsford, Ontario Co., N.Y., that a stranger stayed over night and died as was supposed. A doctor was called and another stranger soon came. He said he was a Mormon and could bring the dead to life. The hotel keeper requested him to restore the man to life. The doctor inquired if he could if the man’s head was cut off. The Mormon replied he could. The doctor took an ax and said he would cut off his head. The pretended dead man rose up and said, “For God’s sake don’t cut off my head.” I have no doubt the above is true, knowing the persons well who informed me. But few persons about Palmyra and Manchester became Mormons. Jo, the prophet, pretended to tell fortunes for pay. He could read the character of men readily and could tell who he could dupe.
[Signed] JOSEPH ROGERS.
HELEN ROGERS (Daughter).
Los Gatos, Cal, May 16, 1887.
Subscribed and sworn to before me this 16th day of May, A.D., 1887.
JOHN F. TOBIN,
5. Lorenzo Saunders
HILLSDALE COUNTY, State of Michigan.
Lorenzo Saunders being duly sworn deposes and says: That I reside in Reading, Hillsdale County, State of Michigan; that I was born in the town of Palmyra, Wayne County, State of [p.163] New York, on June 7, A.D. 1811, and am now seventy-six years of age. That I lived in said town of Palmyra until I was forty-three years of age. That I lived within one mile of Joseph Smith at the time said Joseph Smith claimed that he found the “tablets” on which the ”Book of Mormon” was revealed. That I went to the “Hill Cumorah” on the Sunday following the date that Joseph Smith claimed he found the plates, it being three miles from my home, and I tried to find the place where the earth had been broken by being dug up, but was unable to find any place where the ground had been disturbed.
That my father died on the 10th day of October, A.D. 1825. That in March of 1827, on or about the 15th of said month I went to the house of Joseph Smith for the purpose of getting some maple sugar to eat, that when I arrived at the house of said Joseph Smith, I was met at the door by Harrison Smith, Jo’s brother. That at a distance of ten or twelve rods from the house there were five men that were engaged in talking, four of whom I knew, the fifth one was better dressed than the rest of those whom I was acquainted with. I inquired of Harrison Smith who the stranger was? He informed me his name was Sidney Rigdom with whom I afterwards became acquainted and found to be Sidney Rigdon. This was in March, A.D. 1827, the second spring after the death of my father. I was frequently at the house of Joseph Smith from 1827 to 1830. That I saw Oliver Cowdery writing, I suppose the “Book of Mormon” with books and manuscript laying on the table before him; that I went to school to said Oliver Cowdery and knew him well. That in the summer of 1830, I heard Sydney Rigdon preach a sermon on Mormonism. This was after the “Book of Mormon” had been published, which took about three years from the time that Joseph Smith claimed to have had his revelation.
[Signed.] LORENZO SAUNDERS
[p.164] Sworn and subscribed to before me this 21st day of July, A.D. 1887.
LINUS S. PARMELEE,
Justice of the Peace of Reading, Mich.
6. Henry A. Sayer
… My parents desired their children to be American citizens, and imigrated in 1816 to Luzerne County, Pa., seven miles from Wilkesbarre. When a young man I spent much of the summers along the Susquehanna River. I became acquainted with Jo, Hyrum, and Bill Smith, whom I often saw hunting and digging for buried money, treasure, or lost and hidden things. Jo claimed to receive revelations from the Lord where to dig. People would say, “Jo, what did the Lord tell you last night, or what did you dream?” “Jo, what are you going to dig for next?” “Jo, I found a hollow tree or stump; go and see what you can find there.” He had a peep-stone which he claimed had an attraction, and he could see hidden things through it. He was generally called the Peeker. He was said to be the laziest whelp about the country. He had men to do the digging. I have heard merchants refuse to trust Jo Smith for a plug of tobacco, but say they would give him one. I well remember when he organized his Mormon Church at Harmony, Pa. My father said at the time that Mormonism would take well with the ignorant English, and would become troublesome in this country. He claimed the Government ought to put a stop to it.
HENRY A. SAYER
A. B. DEMING.
Subscribed and sworn to before me at Willoughby this twenty-fourth day of February, 1885.
A. P. BARBER,
Justice of the Peace in and of Lake County, Ohio [p.165]
7. Mrs. M. C. R. Smith
I was born in Belchertown, Mass., May 1, 1812. When I was five or six years old my parents moved to Manchester, N.Y., one mile from the Mormon Smith family, and I attended school with their children. There was considerable digging for money in our neighborhood by men, women and children. I never knew of their finding any. I saw a large hole dug on Nathaniel Smith’s farm, which was sandy. I saw Joshua Stafford’s peep-stone which looked like white marble and had a hole through the center. Sallie Chase, a Methodist, had one and people would go for her to find lost and hidden or stolen things. My mother was one of the first Mormon converts. Father copied the “Book of Mormon” for the printer, or part of it. I heard Martin Harris say that the first part of the “Book of Mormon” was stolen and that he thought his wife took it and it was not printed in the “Book of Mormon.” Father joined the Mormons after my parents went West. Catherine Smith, sister of the prophet, showed me in their house a chest with lock where the plates were kept, but they feared they would be stolen, and then she took up four bricks in the hearth and said they had been buried there. Jo Smith’s mother doctored many persons in Palmyra. My sister, with whom mother died in California, was opposed to her being a Mormon. I hope sometime it will be known whether Mormonism is true or not. My brother, Orrin Porter Rockwell, made me a visit in 1844 or ’45. When ten years old he broke his leg and a young doctor in Palmyra set it so one leg was shorter than the other and it always troubled him so he could not work at farming.
[Signed] MRS. M. C. R. SMITH.
A. B. DEMING,
B. N. SHAW.
Hamden, Ohio, March 25, 1885. [p.166]
8. Christopher M. Stafford
I was born in Manchester, Ontario Co., N.Y., May 26, 1808. I well remember about 1820, when old Jo Smith and family settled on one hundred acres one mile north of our house. The north line of his farm was the boundary line between Manchester, Ontario Co., and Palmyra, Wayne Co.; N.Y. The village of Palmyra was about two miles north of Jo’s house. Old Jo claimed to be a cooper but worked very little at anything. He was intemperate. Hyrum worked at cooperage. Alvin was the oldest son and worked the farm and was the stay of the family. He died a few years after they came. I exchanged work with Jo but more with his brother Harrison, who was a good, industrous boy. I did not enjoy my meals at the Smith’s, they were so filthy. Jo got drunk while we were haying for my uncle, Wm. Stafford; also at a husking at our house, and stayed overnight. I have often seen him drunk. Jo was the laziest one of the family, and a dull scholar, as were all the Smiths except Harrison and Catherine. I attended school with them, also Bill and Carlos.
Oliver Cowdery taught one winter. Catherine’s reputation for virtue was not good. Jo claimed he could tell where money was buried, with a witch hazel consisting of a forked stick of hazel. He held it one fork in each hand and claimed the upper end was attracted by the money. I heard my stepfather, Robert Orr, say he had been digging for money one night. Some of my neighbors also said they were digging for money nights. My mother-in-law, Mrs. Rockwell, said that Prophet Jo Smith told her there was money buried in the ground and she spent considerable time digging in various places for it. I never knew of her finding any. Jo Smith told me there was a peep-stone for me and many others if we could only find them. Jo claimed to have revelations and tell fortunes. He told mine by looking in the palm of my hand and said among other things that I would not live to be very old.
When he claimed to find gold plates of the Mormon Bible no attention was paid to them or him by his neighbors. Some time after Jo had men dig on a tunnel forty or fifty feet [p.167] long in a hill about two miles north of where he claimed to find the plates. I have been in it. Some people surmised it was intended for counterfeiting. Jo was away much of the time summers. He claimed to have a revelation that Manchester, N.Y., was to be destroyed and all the Mormons must leave for Kirkland, O. Orrin Rockwell and wife wanted my wife, their daughter, to go to Missouri. We came to Auburn, Geauga Co., O., Dec. 2, 1831, and have since resided here.
Orrin Porter Rockwell made us a visit on a fine horse (I doubt if he owned it). Soon after Governor Boggs was shot. Prophet Jo told Mrs. Risley, of Manchester, a cripple, he could heal her and she joined the Mormons. Jo failed to heal her and she never walked.
[Signed] C. M. STAFFORD.
A. B. DEMING.
Auburn, March 23, 1885.
9. Cornelius R. Stafford
I was born in Manchester, New York, Feb. 4, 1813. Our school district was called the Stafford District because of sixty scholars enrolled, forty were Staffords. The road on which they lived is now called Stafford Street. The Mormon Smith family lived near our house. I was well acquainted with them and attended school with the younger children. There was much digging for money on our farm and about the neighborhood. I saw Uncle John and Cousin Joshua Stafford dig a hole twenty feet long, eight broad and seven deep. They claimed that they were digging for money but were not successful in finding any. Jo Smith kept it up after our neighbors had abandoned it. A year or two after Jo claimed to find the plates of the “Book of Mormon.” He had men dig a tunnel near fifty feet long in a hill about two miles north of the hill where he claimed to find the plates. I tried to look into a peep-stone in my hat in a dark room; I saw [p.168] nothing, some claimed they could. I saw old Jo Smith, his wife and Mrs. Rockwell baptized by prophet Jo Smith. I have seen Jo in drunken fights; father and son were frequently drunk. I remember when a man (Hurlbut) came to our school house and took statements about the bad character of the Mormon Smith family, and saw them swear to them. Jo Smith, the prophet, told my uncle, William Stafford, he wanted a fat, black sheep. He said he wanted to cut its throat and make it walk in a circle three times around and it would prevent a pot of money from leaving. Jo’s family ate the sheep; he duped many people in similar ways. He claimed to receive revelations from the Lord. The Smiths stole six hogs-heads from us; everything missing was claimed by our neighbors to be in possession of the Smiths. I would make oaths to my statement were not the Justice sick.
[Signed.] C. R. STAFFORD
R. M. STAFFORD (Son)
INA M. RICHARDS (G. daughter).
Auburn, O., March, 1885.
10. Mrs. Sylvia Walker
I was born in Manchester, Ontario County, N.Y., Aug. 27, 1818, and lived there until 1852, when I came to Ohio. The Mormon Smith family lived in sight of my parents’ house. I attended school to Oliver Cowdrey with Carlos, Sam, Bill, Catherine, and Lucy Smith, who were very poor scholars. Jo, Hyrum and Sophrona, the other children, were older. I have been at their house. They were the lowest family I ever knew. They worked very little and had the reputation of stealing everything they could lay their hands on. Old Jo was very intemperate. When Jo told his neighbors about finding gold plates no one believed him nor paid any attention to it, he had humbugged them so much. Much of the time he claimed he was in Pennsylvania. I attended a Mormon meeting in old Jo Smith’s loghouse. [p.169] Martin Harris spoke and Darius Pearse laughed at something he said. He reproved Pearse, who left the house, and when he was in the road began to denounce the Smith family and talked nearly one hour. The audience left the house and listened to him. He reviewed the character of them and said they stole six of his fat sheep. His talk greatly pleased his neighbors. He was one of our best citizens. The Mormons said the price of the ”Book of Mormon” was established at $1.75 by revelation. It did not sell well and they claimed to receive another to sell it at $1.25. The people were amused that the Mormon Deity did not know what price to set upon the book. It was freely talked among the neighbors that Jo Smith said he had a revelation to go to Pennsylvania and get him a wife. Jo claimed to receive a revelation to dig forty feet into a hill about two miles north of where he pretended to find the gold plates of the “Book of Mormon,” where he would find a cave that contained gold furniture, chairs and table. The Mormons dug into the hill horizontally over forty feet without finding any cave. The boys troubled them so they placed a door with lock at the entrance. The boys placed brush against it and destroyed it with fire. The Mormons abandoned it. I heard our neighbors say probably Jo Smith dug his fat sheep and barrels of flour out of it.
[Signed] MRS. SYLVIA WALKER.
MRS. ALBERT PHINNEY (Daughter).
MISS LULA PHINNEY (Granddaughter).
Chester, Ohio, March 20, 1885. [p.170]