Better Information
Raw Information about the history of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints
Original documents and sources


Smith Family Reputation


   At Palmyra, Mr. Smith, Sr., opened a “cake and beer shop,” as described by his signboard, doing business on a small scale, by the profits of which, added to the earnings of an occasional day’s work on hire by himself and his elder sons, for the village and farming people, he was understood to secure a scanty but honest living for himself and family.  These hired days' works were divided among the various common labor jobs that offered from time to time, such as gardening, harvesting, well-digging, etc.<br>
   Mr. Smith’s shop merchandise consisting of gingerbread, pies, boiled eggs, root-beer, and other like notions of traffic, soon became popular with the juvenile people of the town and country, commanding brisk sales, especially on Fourth of July anniversaries, and on military training days, as these prevailed at that period.  Peddling was done in the streets on those occasions by the facility of a rude handcart of the proprietor's own construction...<br>
   The chief application of the useful industry of the Smiths during their residence upon this farm-lot, was in the chopping and retailing of cord-wood, the raising and bartering of small crops of agricultural products and garden vegetables, the manufacture and sale of black-ash baskets and birch brooms, the making of maple sugar and molasses in the season for that work, and in the continued business of peddling cake and beer in the village on days of public doings. It was as a clerk in this last-mentioned line of trade that the rising Joseph (the prophet to be) learned his first lessons in commercial and monetary science...<br>
   The larger proportion of the time of the Smiths, however, was spent in hunting and fishing, trapping muskrats (mushrats was the word they used), digging out woodchucks from their holes, and idly lounging around the stores and shops in the village. Joseph generally took the leading direction of the rural enterprises mentioned, instead of going to school like other boys--though he was seldom known personally to participate in the practical work involved in these or any other pursuits. Existing as they did from year to year in this thriftless manner, with seemingly inadequate visible means or habits of profitable industry for their respectable livelihood, it is not at all to be wondered at that the suspicions of some good people in the community were apt to be turned toward them
Full Source
External Link
Origin, rise, and progress of Mormonism : biography of its founders and history of its church : personal remembrances and historical collections hitherto unwritten ... pgs 12 & 14-15
Smith Family Working Background
Pomeroy Tucker
1867
   At Palmyra, Mr. Smith, Sr., opened a “cake and beer shop,” as described by his signboard, doing business on a small scale, by the profits of which, added to the earnings of an occasional day’s work on hire by himself and his elder sons, for the village and farming people, he was understood to secure a scanty but honest living for himself and family. These hired days' works were divided among the various common labor jobs that offered from time to time, such as gardening, harvesting, well-digging, etc.
   Mr. Smith’s shop merchandise consisting of gingerbread, pies, boiled eggs, root-beer, and other like notions of traffic, soon became popular with the juvenile people of the town and country, commanding brisk sales, especially on Fourth of July anniversaries, and on military training days, as these prevailed at that period. Peddling was done in the streets on those occasions by the facility of a rude handcart of the proprietor's own construction...
   The chief application of the useful industry of the Smiths during their residence upon this farm-lot, was in the chopping and retailing of cord-wood, the raising and bartering of small crops of agricultural products and garden vegetables, the manufacture and sale of black-ash baskets and birch brooms, the making of maple sugar and molasses in the season for that work, and in the continued business of peddling cake and beer in the village on days of public doings. It was as a clerk in this last-mentioned line of trade that the rising Joseph (the prophet to be) learned his first lessons in commercial and monetary science...
   The larger proportion of the time of the Smiths, however, was spent in hunting and fishing, trapping muskrats ("mushrats" was the word they used), digging out woodchucks from their holes, and idly lounging around the stores and shops in the village. Joseph generally took the leading direction of the rural enterprises mentioned, instead of going to school like other boys--though he was seldom known personally to participate in the practical work involved in these or any other pursuits. Existing as they did from year to year in this thriftless manner, with seemingly inadequate visible means or habits of profitable industry for their respectable livelihood, it is not at all to be wondered at that the suspicions of some good people in the community were apt to be turned toward them

   At this period in the life and career of Joseph Smith, Jr., or Joe Smith as he was universally named, and the Smith family, they were popularly regarded as an illiterate, whiskey-drinking, shiftless, irreligious race of people--the first named, the chief subject of this biography, being unanimously voted the laziest and most worthless of the generation.  From the age of twelve to twenty years he is distinctly remembered as a dull-eyed, flaxen-haired, prevaricating boy--noted only for his indolent and vagabondish character, and his habits of exaggeration and untruthfulness.  Taciturnity was among his characteristic idiosyncrasies, and he seldom spoke to any one outside of his intimate associates, except when first addressed by another; and then, by reason of his extravagancies of statement, his word was received with the least confidence by those who knew him best.  He could utter the most palpable exaggeration or marvellous absurdity with the utmost apparent gravity.  He nevertheless evidenced the rapid development of a thinking, plodding, evil-brewing mental composition--largely given to inventions of low cunning, schemes of mischief and deception, and false and mysterious pretensions.  In his moral phrenology the professor might have marked the organ of secretiveness as very large, and that of conscientiousness omitted.  He was, however, proverbially good-natured, very rarely if ever indulging in any combative spirit toward any one, whatever might be the provocation, and yet was never known to laugh.  Albeit, he seemed to be the pride of his indulgent father, who has been heard to boast of him as the genus of the family, quoting his own expression.<br>
   Joseph, moreover, as he grew in years, had learned to read comprehensively, in which qualification he was far in advance of his elder brother, and even of his father; and this talent was assiduously devoted, as he quitted or modified his idle habits, to the perusal of works of fiction and records of criminality, such for instance as would be classed with the dime novels of the present day...
Full Source
External Link
Origin, rise, and progress of Mormonism : biography of its founders and history of its church : personal remembrances and historical collections hitherto unwritten ... pgs 16-17
Pomeroy Tucker's perspective
Pomeroy Tucker
1867
   At this period in the life and career of Joseph Smith, Jr., or "Joe Smith" as he was universally named, and the Smith family, they were popularly regarded as an illiterate, whiskey-drinking, shiftless, irreligious race of people--the first named, the chief subject of this biography, being unanimously voted the laziest and most worthless of the generation. From the age of twelve to twenty years he is distinctly remembered as a dull-eyed, flaxen-haired, prevaricating boy--noted only for his indolent and vagabondish character, and his habits of exaggeration and untruthfulness. Taciturnity was among his characteristic idiosyncrasies, and he seldom spoke to any one outside of his intimate associates, except when first addressed by another; and then, by reason of his extravagancies of statement, his word was received with the least confidence by those who knew him best. He could utter the most palpable exaggeration or marvellous absurdity with the utmost apparent gravity. He nevertheless evidenced the rapid development of a thinking, plodding, evil-brewing mental composition--largely given to inventions of low cunning, schemes of mischief and deception, and false and mysterious pretensions. In his moral phrenology the professor might have marked the organ of secretiveness as very large, and that of conscientiousness "omitted." He was, however, proverbially good-natured, very rarely if ever indulging in any combative spirit toward any one, whatever might be the provocation, and yet was never known to laugh. Albeit, he seemed to be the pride of his indulgent father, who has been heard to boast of him as the "genus of the family," quoting his own expression.
   Joseph, moreover, as he grew in years, had learned to read comprehensively, in which qualification he was far in advance of his elder brother, and even of his father; and this talent was assiduously devoted, as he quitted or modified his idle habits, to the perusal of works of fiction and records of criminality, such for instance as would be classed with the "dime novels" of the present day...

   The elder Smith had been a Universalist, and subsequently a Methodist; was a good deal of a smatterer in scriptural knowledge, but the seed of revelation was sown on weak ground; he was a great babbler, credulous, not especially industrious, a money-digger, prone to the marvellous; and, withal, a little given to difficulties with neighbors, and petty law-suits.  Not a very propitious account of the father of a prophet - the founder of a state; but there was a woman in the case.  However present, in matters of good or evil! - In the garden of Eden, in the siege of Troy, on the field of Orleans, † in the dawning of the Reformation, in the Palace of St. Petersburgh, and Kremlin of Moscow, in England's history, and Spain's proudest era; and here upon this continent, in the persons of Ann Lee, Jemima Wilkinson, and as we are about to add, Mrs. Joseph Smith! A mother's influences; in the world's history, in the history of men, how distinct is the impress! -- In heroes, in statesmen, in poets, in all of good or bad aspirations, or distinctions, that single men come out from the mass, and give them notoriety; how often, almost invariably, are we led back to the influences of a mother, to find the germ that has sprouted in the offspring.<br>
   The reader will excuse this interruption of narrative, and be told that Mrs. Smith was a woman of strong, uncultivated intellect; artful and cunning; imbued with an ill-regulated religious enthusiasm. The incipient hints, the first givings out that a prophet was to spring from her humble household, came from her; and when matters were maturing for denouement, she gave out that such and such ones — always fixing upon those who had both money and credulity — were to be instruments in some great work of new revelation. The old man was rather her faithful co-worker, or executive exponent. Their son, Alvah, was originally intended or designated, by fireside consultations and solemn and mysterious out-door hints, as the forthcoming prophet. The mother and the father said he was the chosen one; but Alvah, however spiritual he may have been, had a carnal appetite; ate too many green turnips, sickened and died. Thus the world lost a prophet, and Mormonism a leader; the designs, impiously and wickedly attributed to Providence, were defeated; and all in consequence of a surfeit of raw turnips. Who will talk of the cackling geese of Rome, or any other small and innocent causes of mighty events after this? The mantle of the prophet which Mrs. and Mr. Joseph Smith and one Oliver Cowdery had wove themselves — every thread of it — fell upon their next eldest son, Joseph Smith, Jr.<br>
   And a most unpromising recipient of such a trust was this same Joseph Smith, Jr., afterwards Jo Smith. He was lounging, idle, (not to say vicious,) and possessed of less than ordinary intellect. The author's own recollections of him are distinct. He used to come into the village of Palmyra, with little jags of wood, from his back-woods home; sometimes patronizing a village grocery too freely; sometimes finding an odd job to do about the store of Seymour Scovell; and once a week he would stroll into the office of the old Palmyra Register for his father's paper. How impious in us young dare devils to once in a while blacken the face of the then meddling, inquisitive lounger -- but afterwards prophet -- with the old-fashioned balls, when he used to put himself in the way of the working of the old-fashioned Ramage press! The editor of the Cultivator at Albany -- esteemed as he may justly consider himself for his subsequent enterprise and usefulness -- may think of it with contrition and repentance, that he once helped thus to disfigure the face of a prophet, and, remotely, the founder of a state.<br>
   But Joseph had a little ambition, and some very laudable aspirations; the mother's intellect occasionally shone out in him feebly, especially when he used to help us to solve some portentous questions of moral or political ethics, in our juvenile debating club, which we moved down to the old red school-house on Durfee street, to get rid of the annoyance of critics that used to drop in upon us in the village; amid, subsequently, after catching a spark of Methodism in the camp-meeting, away down in the woods, on the Vienna road, he was a very passable exhorter in evening meetings.<br>
   Legends of hidden treasure had long designated Mormon Hill as the repository. Old Joseph Had dug there and young Joseph had not only heard his father and mother relate the marvellous tales of buried wealth, but had accompanied his father in the midnight delvings, and incantations of the spirits that guarded it.<br>
   If a buried revelation was to be exhumed, how natural was it that the Smith family, with their credulity, and their assumed presentiment that a prophet was to come from their household, should be connected with it; and that Mormon Hill was the place where it would be found.
Full Source
External Link
History of the Pioneer Settlement of Phelps and Gorham’s Purchase, 213-14
Orasmus Turner's Description
Orasmus Turner
Jun, 1851
   The elder Smith had been a Universalist, and subsequently a Methodist; was a good deal of a smatterer in scriptural knowledge, but the seed of revelation was sown on weak ground; he was a great babbler, credulous, not especially industrious, a money-digger, prone to the marvellous; and, withal, a little given to difficulties with neighbors, and petty law-suits. Not a very propitious account of the father of a prophet - the founder of a state; but there was a "woman in the case." However present, in matters of good or evil! - In the garden of Eden, in the siege of Troy, on the field of Orleans, † in the dawning of the Reformation, in the Palace of St. Petersburgh, and Kremlin of Moscow, in England's history, and Spain's proudest era; and here upon this continent, in the persons of Ann Lee, Jemima Wilkinson, and as we are about to add, Mrs. Joseph Smith! A mother's influences; in the world's history, in the history of men, how distinct is the impress! -- In heroes, in statesmen, in poets, in all of good or bad aspirations, or distinctions, that single men come out from the mass, and give them notoriety; how often, almost invariably, are we led back to the influences of a mother, to find the germ that has sprouted in the offspring.
   The reader will excuse this interruption of narrative, and be told that Mrs. Smith was a woman of strong, uncultivated intellect; artful and cunning; imbued with an ill-regulated religious enthusiasm. The incipient hints, the first givings out that a prophet was to spring from her humble household, came from her; and when matters were maturing for denouement, she gave out that such and such ones — always fixing upon those who had both money and credulity — were to be instruments in some great work of new revelation. The old man was rather her faithful co-worker, or executive exponent. Their son, Alvah, was originally intended or designated, by fireside consultations and solemn and mysterious out-door hints, as the forthcoming prophet. The mother and the father said he was the chosen one; but Alvah, however spiritual he may have been, had a carnal appetite; ate too many green turnips, sickened and died. Thus the world lost a prophet, and Mormonism a leader; the designs, impiously and wickedly attributed to Providence, were defeated; and all in consequence of a surfeit of raw turnips. Who will talk of the cackling geese of Rome, or any other small and innocent causes of mighty events after this? The mantle of the prophet which Mrs. and Mr. Joseph Smith and one Oliver Cowdery had wove themselves — every thread of it — fell upon their next eldest son, Joseph Smith, Jr.
   And a most unpromising recipient of such a trust was this same Joseph Smith, Jr., afterwards Jo Smith." He was lounging, idle, (not to say vicious,) and possessed of less than ordinary intellect. The author's own recollections of him are distinct. He used to come into the village of Palmyra, with little jags of wood, from his back-woods home; sometimes patronizing a village grocery too freely; sometimes finding an odd job to do about the store of Seymour Scovell; and once a week he would stroll into the office of the old Palmyra Register for his father's paper. How impious in us young "dare devils" to once in a while blacken the face of the then meddling, inquisitive lounger -- but afterwards prophet -- with the old-fashioned balls, when he used to put himself in the way of the working of the old-fashioned Ramage press! The editor of the Cultivator at Albany -- esteemed as he may justly consider himself for his subsequent enterprise and usefulness -- may think of it with contrition and repentance, that he once helped thus to disfigure the face of a prophet, and, remotely, the founder of a state.
   But Joseph had a little ambition, and some very laudable aspirations; the mother's intellect occasionally shone out in him feebly, especially when he used to help us to solve some portentous questions of moral or political ethics, in our juvenile debating club, which we moved down to the old red school-house on Durfee street, to get rid of the annoyance of critics that used to drop in upon us in the village; amid, subsequently, after catching a spark of Methodism in the camp-meeting, away down in the woods, on the Vienna road, he was a very passable exhorter in evening meetings.
   Legends of hidden treasure had long designated Mormon Hill as the repository. Old Joseph Had dug there and young Joseph had not only heard his father and mother relate the marvellous tales of buried wealth, but had accompanied his father in the midnight delvings, and incantations of the spirits that guarded it.
   If a buried revelation was to be exhumed, how natural was it that the Smith family, with their credulity, and their assumed presentiment that a prophet was to come from their household, should be connected with it; and that Mormon Hill was the place where it would be found.

   Hyrum, another son, helped his father at the trade of a cooper. Joseph, Jr., grew up with the reputation of being an idle and ignorant youth, given to chicken-thieving, and, like his father, extremely superstitious. Both father and sons believed in witchcraft, and they frequently divined the presence of water by a forked stick or hazel rod. Orlando Sanders of Palmyra, a well-preserved gentleman of over eighty, tells us that the Smith family worked for his father and for himself. He gives them the credit of being good workers, but declares that they could save no money. He also states that Joseph, Jr., was a greeny, both large and strong. By nature he was peaceably disposed, but when he had taken too much liquor he was inclined to fight, with or without provocation.
Full Source
External Link
Lippincott's Magazine 26:152, pg 198
Lippincott's Monthly Magazine
Frederic G. Mather
Aug, 1880
   Hyrum, another son, helped his father at the trade of a cooper. Joseph, Jr., grew up with the reputation of being an idle and ignorant youth, given to chicken-thieving, and, like his father, extremely superstitious. Both father and sons believed in witchcraft, and they frequently "divined" the presence of water by a forked stick or hazel rod. Orlando Sanders of Palmyra, a well-preserved gentleman of over eighty, tells us that the Smith family worked for his father and for himself. He gives them the credit of being good workers, but declares that they could save no money. He also states that Joseph, Jr., was "a greeny," both large and strong. By nature he was peaceably disposed, but when he had taken too much liquor he was inclined to fight, with or without provocation.

   It has generally been stated that my father's family were lazy, shiftless and poor; but this was never said by their neighbors, or until after the angel appeared and the story of the golden Bible was told.
Full Source
External Link
The Old Soldier's Testimony, The Saints' Herald, Vol 31, No 40
1884 Sermon by William Smith
William Smith
8 Jun, 1884
   It has generally been stated that my father's family were lazy, shiftless and poor; but this was never said by their neighbors, or until after the angel appeared and the story of the golden Bible was told.

   It is said that Joseph and the rest of the family were lazy and indolent.<br>
   We never heard of such a thing until after Joseph told his vision, and not then by our friends. Whenever the neighbors wanted a good days work done they knew where they could get a good hand and they were not particular to take any of the other boys before Joseph either. We cleared sixty acres of the heaviest timber I ever saw. We had a good place, but it required a great deal of labor to make it a good place. We also had on it from twelve to fifteen hundred sugar trees, and to gather the sap and make sugar and molasses from that number of trees was no lazy job. We worked hard to clear our place and the neighbors were a little jealous. If you will figure up how much work it would take to clear sixty acres of heavy timber land, heavier than any here, trees you could not conveniently cut down, you can tell whether we were lazy or not, and Joseph did his share of the work with the rest of the boys.<br>
   We never knew we were bad folks until Joseph told his vision. We were considered respectable till then, but at once people began to circulate falsehoods and stories in a wonderful way.
External Link
The Testimony of William Smith, Millennial Star 61, pg 133
William's last testimony
William Smith
26 Feb, 1894
   It is said that Joseph and the rest of the family were lazy and indolent.
   We never heard of such a thing until after Joseph told his vision, and not then by our friends. Whenever the neighbors wanted a good days work done they knew where they could get a good hand and they were not particular to take any of the other boys before Joseph either. We cleared sixty acres of the heaviest timber I ever saw. We had a good place, but it required a great deal of labor to make it a good place. We also had on it from twelve to fifteen hundred sugar trees, and to gather the sap and make sugar and molasses from that number of trees was no lazy job. We worked hard to clear our place and the neighbors were a little jealous. If you will figure up how much work it would take to clear sixty acres of heavy timber land, heavier than any here, trees you could not conveniently cut down, you can tell whether we were lazy or not, and Joseph did his share of the work with the rest of the boys.
   We never knew we were bad folks until Joseph told his vision. We were considered respectable till then, but at once people began to circulate falsehoods and stories in a wonderful way.

   And if we might judege by any external manifestation we had every reason to believe that we had many Good and affectionate friends for never have I seen more kindness or attention shown to any person or family than we received from those around us Again we began to rejoice in our prosperity and our hearts glowed with gratitude to God for the manifestations of his favor that surrounded tr us Permit me here to relate a little circumstance by way of illustration A friend of mine having invited several of her associates to take tea with her one afternoon sent an urgeant request for me also to call on her with the rest we spent the time quite pleasantly each seeming to enjoy those reciprocal feelings which renders the society of our friends delightful to us. when tea was served up we were passing some good-natured remarks upon each other when one lady observed Well I declare Mrs ought not to live in that log house of her’s any longer she deserves a better fate and I say she must have a new house. so she should says another for she is so kind to every one She ought to have the best of every thing Now Ladies said I thank you for your compliments but you are quite mistaken I will show you that I am the wealthiest woman that sits at this table Well said they now make those appear.  Now mark answered I to them I have never prayed for riches as perhaps you have but I have always desired that God would enable me to use enough wisdom and forbearance in my family to set good precepts & examples before my children as also to secure the confidence and affection of my husband that we acting togather in the education and instruction of our children that we might in our old age reap the reward of circumspection joined with parental tenderness viz the Pleasure of seeing our children dignify their Fathers name by an upright and honorable course of conduct in after life I have been gratified so far in all this and more I have tis true suffered many disagreable disapointments in life with regard to property but I now find myself very comfortably situated to what any of you are what we have has not been obtained at the expense of the comfort of any human being we owe no man anything we never distressed any man this circumstance almost invariably attends the Mercantile life so I have no reason to envy those who are engaged. beside there is none present who have this kind of weath that have not lately met with a loss of children or othe friends (which really was the case) and now as for Mrs. the minister's lady I ask you how many nights of the week you are kept awake with anxiety about your Sons who are in habitual attendance on the Grog Shop & gambling house. they all said with a melancholly look that showed conviction Mrs S. you have established the fact I merely relate this that you may draw a moral therefrom that may be useful to you
External Link
The Joseph Smith Papers, Lucy Mack Smith, History, 1844–1845, pgs 38-39
Lucy Tells of Affectionate Friends
Lucy Mack Smith
1844-45
   And if we might judege by any external manifestation we had every reason to believe that we had many Good and affectionate friends for never have I seen more kindness or attention shown to any person or family than we received from those around us Again we began to rejoice in our prosperity and our hearts glowed with gratitude to God for the manifestations of his favor that surrounded tr us Permit me here to relate a little circumstance by way of illustration A friend of mine having invited several of her associates to take tea with her one afternoon sent an urgeant request for me also to call on her with the rest we spent the time quite pleasantly each seeming to enjoy those reciprocal feelings which renders the society of our friends delightful to us. when tea was served up we were passing some good-natured remarks upon each other when one lady observed Well I declare Mrs ought not to live in that log house of her’s any longer she deserves a better fate and I say she must have a new house. so she should says another for she is so kind to every one She ought to have the best of every thing Now Ladies said I thank you for your compliments but you are quite mistaken I will show you that I am the wealthiest woman that sits at this table Well said they now make those appear. Now mark answered I to them I have never prayed for riches as perhaps you have but I have always desired that God would enable me to use enough wisdom and forbearance in my family to set good precepts & examples before my children as also to secure the confidence and affection of my husband that we acting togather in the education and instruction of our children that we might in our old age reap the reward of circumspection joined with parental tenderness viz the Pleasure of seeing our children dignify their Fathers name by an upright and honorable course of conduct in after life I have been gratified so far in all this and more I have tis true suffered many disagreable disapointments in life with regard to property but I now find myself very comfortably situated to what any of you are what we have has not been obtained at the expense of the comfort of any human being we owe no man anything we never distressed any man this circumstance almost invariably attends the Mercantile life so I have no reason to envy those who are engaged. beside there is none present who have this kind of weath that have not lately met with a loss of children or othe friends (which really was the case) and now as for Mrs. the minister's lady I ask you how many nights of the week you are kept awake with anxiety about your Sons who are in habitual attendance on the Grog Shop & gambling house. they all said with a melancholly look that showed conviction Mrs S. you have established the fact I merely relate this that you may draw a moral therefrom that may be useful to you
(Note:  This quote comes from Lucy's original manuscript transcribed in 1844-1845 by Martha Jane and Howard Coray. In 1845 the Corays produced an altered copy which can be read in full here. This altered manuscript was used in the 1853 publication by Orson Pratt in England under the title "Biographical Sketches of Joseph Smith, the Prophet, and his Progenitors for many Generations" which can be read in full here.)

   I was acquainted with the family of Joseph Smith, Sen., both before and since they became Mormons, and feel free to state that not one of the male members of the Smith family were entitled to any credit, whatsoever.  They were lazy, intemperate and worthless men, very much addicted to lying.  In this they frequently boasted of their skill.  Digging for money was their principal employment.  In regard to their Gold Bible speculation, they scarcely ever told two stories alike.  The Mormon Bible is said to be a revelation from God, through Joseph Smith Jr., his Prophet, and this same Joseph Smith Jr. to my knowledge, bore the reputation among his neighbors of being a liar.  The foregoing statement can be corroborated by all his former neighbors.
Full Source
External Link
Mormonism Unvailed, E.D. Howe, pg 248
The testimony of Parley Chase
Parley Chase
13 Dec, 1833
   I was acquainted with the family of Joseph Smith, Sen., both before and since they became Mormons, and feel free to state that not one of the male members of the Smith family were entitled to any credit, whatsoever. They were lazy, intemperate and worthless men, very much addicted to lying. In this they frequently boasted of their skill. Digging for money was their principal employment. In regard to their Gold Bible speculation, they scarcely ever told two stories alike. The Mormon Bible is said to be a revelation from God, through Joseph Smith Jr., his Prophet, and this same Joseph Smith Jr. to my knowledge, bore the reputation among his neighbors of being a liar. The foregoing statement can be corroborated by all his former neighbors.

   I have been acquainted with the family of Joseph Smith Sen. for several years, and I know him to be a drunkard and a liar, and to be much in the habit of gambling.  He and his boys were truly a lazy set of fellows, and more particularly Joseph, who, very aptly followed his father's example, and in some respects was worse.  When intoxicated he was very quarrelsome.  Previous to his going to Pennsylvania to get married, we worked together making a coal-pit.  While at work at one time, a dispute arose between us, (he having drinked a little too freely) and some hard words passed between us, and as usual with him at such times, was for fighting.  He got the advantage of me in the scuffle, and a gentleman by the name of Ford interfered, when Joseph turned to fighting him.  We both entered a complaint against him and he was fined for the breach of the Peace.
Full Source
External Link
Mormonism Unvailed, E.D. Howe, pg 249
The testimony of David Stafford, witnessed by Fred'k Smith, Justice of the Peace
David Stafford, withnessed by Fred'k Smith
5 Dec, 1833
   I have been acquainted with the family of Joseph Smith Sen. for several years, and I know him to be a drunkard and a liar, and to be much in the habit of gambling. He and his boys were truly a lazy set of fellows, and more particularly Joseph, who, very aptly followed his father's example, and in some respects was worse. When intoxicated he was very quarrelsome. Previous to his going to Pennsylvania to get married, we worked together making a coal-pit. While at work at one time, a dispute arose between us, (he having drinked a little too freely) and some hard words passed between us, and as usual with him at such times, was for fighting. He got the advantage of me in the scuffle, and a gentleman by the name of Ford interfered, when Joseph turned to fighting him. We both entered a complaint against him and he was fined for the breach of the Peace.

   Being called upon to give a statement of the character of the family of Joseph Smith, Sen. as far as I know, I can state that I became acquainted with them in 1820, and knew them until 1831, when they left this neighborhood.--Joseph Smith, Sen. was a noted drunkard and most of the family followed his example, and Joseph, Jr. especially, who was very much addicted to intemperance.  In short, not one of the family had the least claims to respectability.  Even since he professed to be inspired of the Lord to translate the Book of Mormon, he one day while at work in my father's field, got quite drunk on a composition of cider, molasses and water.  Finding his legs to refuse their office he leaned upon the fence and hung for sometime; at length recovering again, he fell to scuffling with one of the work-men, who tore his shirt nearly off from him.  His wife who was at our house on a visit, appeared very much grieved at his conduct, and to protect his back from the rays of the sun, and conceal his nakedness, threw her shawl over his shoulders and in that plight escorted the Prophet home.  As an evidence of his piety and devotion, when intoxicated, he frequently made his religion the topic of conversation!
Full Source
External Link
Mormonism Unvailed, E.D. Howe, pgs 250-51
The testimony of Barton Stafford
Barton Stafford, witnessed by Thos. P. Baldwin
3 Nov, 1833
   Being called upon to give a statement of the character of the family of Joseph Smith, Sen. as far as I know, I can state that I became acquainted with them in 1820, and knew them until 1831, when they left this neighborhood.--Joseph Smith, Sen. was a noted drunkard and most of the family followed his example, and Joseph, Jr. especially, who was very much addicted to intemperance. In short, not one of the family had the least claims to respectability. Even since he professed to be inspired of the Lord to translate the Book of Mormon, he one day while at work in my father's field, got quite drunk on a composition of cider, molasses and water. Finding his legs to refuse their office he leaned upon the fence and hung for sometime; at length recovering again, he fell to scuffling with one of the work-men, who tore his shirt nearly off from him. His wife who was at our house on a visit, appeared very much grieved at his conduct, and to protect his back from the rays of the sun, and conceal his nakedness, threw her shawl over his shoulders and in that plight escorted the Prophet home. As an evidence of his piety and devotion, when intoxicated, he frequently made his religion the topic of conversation!

   I, Henry Harris, do state that I became acquainted with the family of Joseph Smith, Sen. about the year 1820, in the town of Manchester, N. York.  They were a family that labored very little--the chief they did, was to dig for money.  Joseph Smith, Jr. the pretended Prophet, used to pretend to tell fortunes; he had a stone which he used to put in his hat, by means of which he professed to tell people's fortunes.<br>
   Joseph Smith, Jr. Martin Harris and others, used to meet together in private, a while before the gold plates were found, and were familiarly known by the name of the Gold Bible Company.  They were regarded by the community in which they lived, as a lying and indolent set of men and no confidence could be placed in them.<br>
   The character of Joseph Smith, Jr. for truth and veracity was such, that I would not believe him under oath.  I was once on a jury before a Justice's Court and the Jury could not, and did not, believe his testimony to be true.
Full Source
External Link
Mormonism Unvailed, E.D. Howe, pgs 251-52
Testimony of Henry Harris
Henry Harris, witness by Jonathan Lapham
1833-34
   I, Henry Harris, do state that I became acquainted with the family of Joseph Smith, Sen. about the year 1820, in the town of Manchester, N. York. They were a family that labored very little--the chief they did, was to dig for money. Joseph Smith, Jr. the pretended Prophet, used to pretend to tell fortunes; he had a stone which he used to put in his hat, by means of which he professed to tell people's fortunes.
   Joseph Smith, Jr. Martin Harris and others, used to meet together in private, a while before the gold plates were found, and were familiarly known by the name of the "Gold Bible Company." They were regarded by the community in which they lived, as a lying and indolent set of men and no confidence could be placed in them.
   The character of Joseph Smith, Jr. for truth and veracity was such, that I would not believe him under oath. I was once on a jury before a Justice's Court and the Jury could not, and did not, believe his testimony to be true.

   I, Joshua Stafford, became acquainted with the family of Jospeh Smith, Sen. about the year 1819 or 20.  They then were laboring people, in low circumstances.  A short time after this, they commenced digging for hidden treasures, and soon after they became indolent, and told marvellous stories about ghosts, hob-goblins, caverns, and various other mysterious matters.
Full Source
External Link
Mormonism Unvailed, E.D. Howe, pg 258
The testimony of Joshua Stafford
Joshua Stafford
1833
   I, Joshua Stafford, became acquainted with the family of Jospeh Smith, Sen. about the year 1819 or 20. They then were laboring people, in low circumstances. A short time after this, they commenced digging for hidden treasures, and soon after they became indolent, and told marvellous stories about ghosts, hob-goblins, caverns, and various other mysterious matters.

   We, the undersigned, have been acquainted with the Smith family, for a number of years, while they resided near this place, and we have no hesitation in saying, that we consider them destitute of that moral character, which ought to entitle them to the confidence of any community.  They were particularly famous for visionary projects, spent much of their time in digging for money which they pretended was hid in the earth; and to this day, large excavations may be seen in the earth, not far from their residence, where they used to spend their time in digging for hidden treasures.  Joseph Smith, Senior, and his son Joseph, were in particular, considered entirely destitute of moral character, and addicted to vicious habits.<br>
   ...And in reference to all with whom we were acquainted, that have embraced Mormonism from this neighborhood, we are compeled to say, were very visionary, and most of them destitute of moral character, and without influence in this community; and this may account why they were permitted to go on with their impositions undisturbed.  It was not supposed that any of them were possessed of sufficient character or influence to make any one believe their book or their sentiments, and we know not of a single individual in this vicinity that puts the least confidence in their pretended revelations.
Full Source
External Link
Mormonism Unvailed, E.D. Howe, pgs 261-62
The testimony of 51 Smith neighbors
51 named Smith neighbors
4 Dec, 1833
   We, the undersigned, have been acquainted with the Smith family, for a number of years, while they resided near this place, and we have no hesitation in saying, that we consider them destitute of that moral character, which ought to entitle them to the confidence of any community. They were particularly famous for visionary projects, spent much of their time in digging for money which they pretended was hid in the earth; and to this day, large excavations may be seen in the earth, not far from their residence, where they used to spend their time in digging for hidden treasures. Joseph Smith, Senior, and his son Joseph, were in particular, considered entirely destitute of moral character, and addicted to vicious habits.
   ...And in reference to all with whom we were acquainted, that have embraced Mormonism from this neighborhood, we are compeled to say, were very visionary, and most of them destitute of moral character, and without influence in this community; and this may account why they were permitted to go on with their impositions undisturbed. It was not supposed that any of them were possessed of sufficient character or influence to make any one believe their book or their sentiments, and we know not of a single individual in this vicinity that puts the least confidence in their pretended revelations.

   We, the undersigned, being personally acquainted with the family of Joseph Smith, sen. with whom the celebrated Gold Bible, so called, originated, state: that they were not only a lazy, indolent set of men, but also intemperate; and their word was not to be depended upon; and that we are truly glad to dispense with their society.
Full Source
External Link
Mormonism Unvailed, E.D. Howe, pg 262
The testimony of 11 Smith acquaintances
Eleven Smith acquaintances
3 Nov, 1833
   We, the undersigned, being personally acquainted with the family of Joseph Smith, sen. with whom the celebrated Gold Bible, so called, originated, state: that they were not only a lazy, indolent set of men, but also intemperate; and their word was not to be depended upon; and that we are truly glad to dispense with their society.

No Preview Available
External Link
Naked Truths About Mormonism, Vol 1, No 1, pg 2, col 4
Sarah Anderick Statement
Sarah Fowler Anderick
24 Jun, 1887
   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 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.
(Note:  No images of this source are available online. Please contact me if you have any information.)

No Preview Available
External Link
Naked Truths About Mormonism, Vol 1, No 1, pg 2, col 6
William Hine Statement
William Riley Hine
Jan, 1888
   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.
(Note:  No images of this source are available online. Please contact me if you have any information.)

   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.
External Link
Naked Truths About Mormonism, Vol 1, No 2, pg 1, col 1
Christopher Stafford Statement
Christopher M. Stafford
23 Mar, 1885
   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.

   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.
External Link
Naked Truths About Mormonism, Vol 1, No 2, pg 1, col 2
Joseph Rogers Statement
Joseph Rogers
16 May, 1887
   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.

   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. 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.
External Link
Naked Truths About Mormonism, Vol 1, No 2, pg 1, col 4
Sylvia Walker Statement
Mrs. Sylvia Walker
20 Mar, 1885
   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. 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.

   Joseph Smith, senior, the father of the personage of whom we are now writing, had by misfortune or otherwise been reduced to extreme poverty before he migrated to Western New-York. His family was large consisting of nine or ten children, among whom Jo junior was the third or fourth in succession. We have never been able to learn that any of the family were ever noted for much else than ignorance and stupidity, to which might be added, so far as it may respect the elder branch, a propensity to superstition and a fondness for everything marvelous.<br>
   We have been credibly informed that the mother of the prophet, had connected herself with several religious societies before her present illumination; this also was the case with other branches of the family, but how far the father of the prophet, ever advanced in these particulars, we are not precisely informed, it however appears quite certain that the prophet himself never made any serious pretensions to religion until his late pretended revelation.
External Link
The Reflector, Palmyra, Gold Bible, no. 3
The Palmyra Reflector's take
Abner Cole
1 Feb, 1831
   Joseph Smith, senior, the father of the personage of whom we are now writing, had by misfortune or otherwise been reduced to extreme poverty before he migrated to Western New-York. His family was large consisting of nine or ten children, among whom Jo junior was the third or fourth in succession. We have never been able to learn that any of the family were ever noted for much else than ignorance and stupidity, to which might be added, so far as it may respect the elder branch, a propensity to superstition and a fondness for everything marvelous.
   We have been credibly informed that the mother of the prophet, had connected herself with several religious societies before her present illumination; this also was the case with other branches of the family, but how far the father of the prophet, ever advanced in these particulars, we are not precisely informed, it however appears quite certain that the prophet himself never made any serious pretensions to religion until his late pretended revelation.

   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 outragious 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 wich I have often had occasion to lament, were a light, and too often, vain main, exhibiting a foolish and trifling conversation.<br>
   This being all, and the worst, that my accusers can substantiate against my moral character, I wish to add, that it is not without 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 <i>all</i> men are commanded to walk!
Full Source
External Link
Messenger and Advocate Volume 1, December 1834, pg 40
Letter to Oliver Cowdery
Joseph Smith Jr.
Dec, 1834
   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 outragious 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 wich I have often had occasion to lament, were a light, and too often, vain main, 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 without 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!

   I was left to all kinds of temptations, and mingling all kinds of society I frequently into many foolish errors and displayed the weakness of youth and the corruption of human nature which I am sorry to say led me into divers temptations to the gratification of many appetites offensive in the sight of God. In consequence of these things I often felt condemned for my weakness and imperfections;
External Link
The Joseph Smith Papers, History, 1838–1856, volume A-1 [23 December 1805–30 August 1834], pg 5
Joseph's admission in the cannonized account
Joseph Smith Jr.
1838
   I was left to all kinds of temptations, and mingling all kinds of society I frequently into many foolish errors and displayed the weakness of youth and the corruption of human nature which I am sorry to say led me into divers temptations to the gratification of many appetites offensive in the sight of God. In consequence of these things I often felt condemned for my weakness and imperfections;
(Note:  This admission refers to the time period between the Spring of 1820 and September 21, 1823. This manuscript, dated 1839, is in the handwriting of scribe James Mulholland. In December 1842 Willard Richards made some revisions.)

kimballthenom@yahoo.com