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Angel and the Gold Plates — Early Accounts of Joseph Smith's Story:


Neal Maxwell


Taken from, Joseph Knight’s Recollection of Early Mormon History MANUSCRIPT OF THE EARLY HISTORY OF JOSEPH SMITH:


"From thence he went to the hill where he was informed the Record was and found no trouble for it appeard plain as tho he was acquainted with the place it was so plain in the vision that he had of the place. He went and found the place and opened it and found a plane Box. He oncovered it and found the Book and took it out and laid [it] Down By his side and thot he would Cover the place over again thinking there might be something else here. But he was told to take the Book and go right away. And after he had Covered the place he turned round to take the Book and it was not there and he was astonished that the Book was gone. He thot he would look in the place again and see if it had not got Back again. He had heard people tell of such things. And he opened the Box and Behold the Book was there. He took hold of it to take it out again and Behold he Could not stur the Book any more then he Could the mountin. He exclaimed 'why Cant I stur this Book?' And he was answered, 'you cant have it now.' Joseph says 'when can I have it?' The answer was the 22nt Day of September next if you Bring the right person with you. Joseph says, 'who is the right Person?' The answer was 'your oldest Brother.' But before September Came his oldest Brother Died. Then he was Disapinted and did not [k]now what to do. But when the 22nt Day of September Came he went to the place and the personage appeard and told him he Could not have it now. But the 22nt Day of September nex he mite have the Book if he Brot with him the right person. Joseph says, 'who is the right Person?' The answer was you will know. Then he looked in his glass and found it was Emma Hale, Daughter of old Mr Hail of Pensylvany, a girl that he had seen Before, for he had Bin Down there Before with me. (Joseph Knight’s Recollection of Early Mormon History)


Taken from, Willard Chase's Recollection of Early Mormon History — 1833 affidavit:


“In the month of June, 1827, Joseph Smith, Sen. related to me the following story: ‘That some years ago, a spirit had appeared to Joseph his son, in a vision, and informed him that in a certain place there was a record on plates of gold, and that he was the person that must obtain them, and this he must do in the following manner: On the 22nd of September, he must repair to the place where was deposited this manuscript, dressed in black clothes, and riding a black horse with a switch tail, and demand the book in a certain name, and after obtaining it, he must go directly away, and neither lay it down nor look behind him. They accordingly fitted out Joseph with the suit of black clothes, and borrowed a black horse. He repaired to the place of deposit and demanded the book, which was in a stone box, unsealed, and so near the top of the ground that he could see one end of it, and raising it up, took out the book of gold; but fearing some one might discover where he got it, he laid it down to place back the top stone, as he found it; and turning around, to his surprise there was no book in sight. He again opened the box, and in it saw the book, and attempted to take it out, but was hindered. He saw in the box something like toad, which soon assumed the appearance of a man, and struck him on the side of his head. – Not being discouraged at trifles, he again stooped down and strove to take the book, when the spirit struck him again, and knocked him three or four rods, and hurt him prodigiously. After recovering from his fright, he inquired why he could not obtain the plates; to which the spirit made reply, because you have not obeyed your orders.  (Joseph Smith’s New York Reputation Reexamined, Rodger I. Anderson, Signature Books, 1990, p. 121.)  (see entire account)



Taken from, History of the Mormon Joseph Smith by His Mother... Preston Nibley, Edition reprint, Kessinger Publishing, 2004:


"Having some further conversation with the angel, on this occasion, Joseph was permitted to raise the stone again, when he beheld the plates as he had done before. He immediately reached forth his hand to take them, but instead of getting them, as he anticipated, he was hurled back upon the ground with great violence. When he recovered, the angel was gone, and he arose and returned to the house, weeping for grief and disappointment." (p. 84)  (see entire account)



LDS publication documenting four trusted accounts of Alvin being the right person:

·  Chase

·  Knight

·  Two latter reports


“Willard Chase evidently reported the instructions concerning Alvin correctly. The event was confirmed by Joseph Knight, the LDS convert who supplied Joseph and Oliver with necessities while they translated the Book of Mormon. Brother Knight tells how Joseph first went to the hill but was denied the record because of carelessness: “Joseph says, ‘When can I have it?’ The answer was the 22nd day of September next if you bring the right person with you. Joseph says, ‘Who is the right person?’ The answer was Your oldest brother.’ But before September came his oldest brother died.” — Dean Jessee, “Joseph Knight’s Recollection of Early Mormon History,” BYU Studies, Autumn 1976, p. 31. — Two later reports tell similar stories, basically repeating the Chase affidavit. — Fayette Lapham claimed to give particular words of Joseph Smith, Sr., forty years after conversing with him: “The Mormons,” Historical Magazine 7 (2d ser. 1870): 305–9; also cited in Kirkham, 2:283–391. Here the command to bring Alvin is given at a second visit to the hill, and “during that year … his oldest brother died.” See also the Kelley interviews with Lorenzo Saunders. On 17 September 1884, Lorenzo said to William H. Kelley that the ‘angel’ appeared to Joseph ‘in the woods’ and ‘told him where the plates were and he could take his oldest brother with him in a year from that time and go and get them. But his oldest brother died before the year was out.” (E. L. Kelley Papers, box 1, fd. 7, pp. 9–10, historical archives of the Reorganized Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, hereafter cited as RLDS Archives.) On 12 November 1884, Lorenzo said: “he saw the angel and … was notified of these plates … but it was not at that time made known to him, but he must take his older brother and go to the spot and he could obtain them. Before that time his oldest brother died.’” (E. L. Kelley interview with Saunders, E. L. Kelley Papers, box 1, fd., 1884 Nov. and Dec., p. 16, RLDS Archives.) - (Ensign, 1987, August, The Alvin Smith Story: Fact and Fiction, By Richard Lloyd Anderson) 



Taken from, Joseph Smith's 1832-34 diary:

"... for now I had been tempted of the advisary and sought the Plates to obtain riches and kept not the commandments that I should have an eye single to the glory of God therefore I was chastened and sought diligently to obtain the plates and obtain them not until I was twenty one years of age..." (Page 5, lines 1-5)



Elusive Qualities of the Gold Plates:  


“Some of the witnesses of the Book of Mormon, who handled the plates and conversed with the angels of God, were afterwards left to doubt and to disbelieve that they had ever seen an angel. One of the Quorum of the Twelve - a young man full of faith and good works, prayed, and the vision of his mind was opened, and the angel of God came and laid the plates before him, and he saw and handled them, and saw the angel, and conversed with him as he would with one of his friends; but after all this, he was left to doubt, and plunged into apostacy, and has continued to contend against this work. There are hundreds in a similar condition.” (Brigham Young, JoD: vol. 7 p. 164, June 5, 1859)


  “Moroni temporarily reclaimed the plates and the interpreters after Martin HARRIS had lost the first 116 manuscript pages of the translation.  Later, when Joseph Smith moved from Harmony, Pennsylvania, to Fayette, New York, in June 1829, Moroni returned them to him there (Smith, pp. 149-50).


Still later, Moroni showed the plates to the Three Witnesses (HC 1:54-55), took them after the translation had been completed (JS—H 1:60), and once more returned them briefly to Joseph to show to the Eight Witnesses (see Book of Mormon Witnesses).  In addition to Joseph and the Three Witnesses, Mary Whitmer also saw the angel and talked with him. Mary Whitmer said she was shown the gold plates when she conversed with Moroni (Peterson, pp. 114, 116). Other sources indicate that Moroni appeared also to W. W. Phelps, Heber C. Kimball, John Taylor, and Oliver Granger (Peterson, pp. 151-52).” (Encyclopedia of Mormonism, Vol. 2, Moroni, Visitations of... emphasis ours).  


■  “I will tell you a wonderful thing that happened after Joseph had found the plates. Three of us took some tools to go to the hill and hunt for some more boxes of gold or something, and indeed we found a stone box. We got quite excited about it and dug quite carefully around it and we were ready to take it up, but behold by some unseen power the box slipped back into the hill. We stood there and looked at it and one of us took a crowbar and tried to drive it through the lid and hold it but the bar glanced off and broke off one corner of the box. Sometime that box will be found and you will see the corner broken off and then you will know I have told the truth again.” (Martin’s death-bed statement - signed as witnesses Clarkston, Utah, July, 1875 - John Godfrey, Ole A. Jensen and James Keep)


I [Martin Harris] never saw the golden plates, only in a visionary or entranced state. I wrote a great deal of the Book of Mormon myself, as Joseph Smith translated or spelled the words out in English. Sometimes the plates would be on a table in the room in which Smith did the translating, covered over with a cloth. I was told by Smith that God would strike him dead if he attempted to look at them, and I believed it.” (Anthony Metcalf, Ten Years Before the Mast, n.d., microfilm copy, p. 70–71; quoted in Dale Morgan, Dale Morgan on Early Mormonism: Correspondence and a New History, Salt Lake City: Signature Books, 1986).


“Harris was told that it would arouse the most terrible divine displeasure, if he should attempt to draw near the sacred chest, or look at Smith while engaged in the work of decyphering (sic) the mysterious characters.” (1827 — Account of Martin Harris given to the Rev. John A. Clark, as related in his 1842 book Gleanings by the Way, W.J. & J.K. Simon, pp. 222ff). [Microfilm copy]


John H. Gilbert, who participated in printing of the Book of Mormon. said: "Martin was something of a prophet: He frequently said that 'Jackson would be the last president that we would have; and that all persons who did not embrace Mormonism in two years would be stricken off the face of the earth.' He said that 'Palmyra was to be the New Jerusalem, and that her streets were to be paved with gold.' Martin was in the office when I finished setting up the testimony of the three witnesses, (Harris — Cowdery and Whitmer) I said to him, 'Martin, did you see those plates with your naked eyes?' Martin looked down for an instant, raise his eyes up, and said, 'No, I saw them with a spiritual eye.'" (Wilford C. Wood, Joseph Smith Begins His Work, Vol. 1, 1958, introduction. This is a photomechanical reprint of the first edition [1830] of the Book of Mormon. It also contains biographical and historical information relating to the Book of Mormon.)


Also see:

Fayette Lapham Account

Knight Account

The Amboy Journal

Joseph Smith Money Digging Accounts

Enchantment — Magic and Money Digging