The Amboy Journal

The Amboy Journal, p.1
The Amboy Journal

The Amboy Journal, Amboy, Illinois, Wednesday, April 30, 1879, page 1.

Statements of Joseph and Hiel Lewis, sons of Rev. Nathaniel Lewis, concerning what they saw and heard of the sayings and doings of the prophet Joseph Smith, jr. while he was engaged in peeping for money and hidden treasures, and translating his gold bible in our neighborhood.

And that during all the time that said Smith was engaged in the above named business, in the township of, Harmony, Susquehanna Co., Pa., our home and residence was within one mile of where he lived and transacted his business.

First, we would add our testimony to the truthfulness of the statements of Isaac Hale, Rev. Nathaniel Lewis, …

According to our recollection, the starting point of the money digging speculation in our vicinity, in which Joseph Smith, jr. was engaged, was as follows:

We are unable at this time to give precise dates, but some time previous to 1825, a man by the name of Wm. Hale, a distant relative of our uncle Isaac Hale, came to Isaac Hale, and said that he had been informed by a woman named Odle, who claimed to possess the power of seeing under ground, (such persons were then commonly called peepers) that there was great treasures concealed in the hill north-east from his, (Isaac Hale’s) house. By her directions, Wm. Hale commenced digging, but being too lazy to work, and too poor to hire, he obtained a partner by the name of Oliver Harper, of York state, who had the means to hire help. But after a short time operations were suspended for a time; during the suspension, Wm. Hale heard of peeper Joseph Smith, jr., wrote to him, and soon visited him; he found Smith’s representations were so flattering that Smith was either hired or became a partner with Wm. Hale, Oliver Harper, and a man by the name of Stowell, who had some property.

They hired men and dug in several places, as described in the history of Susq. Co., page 579. The account given in the said history at page 580, of a pure white dog to be used as a sacrifice to restrain the enchantment, and of the anger of the Almighty at the attempt to palm off on him a white sheep in the place of a white dog, is a fair sample of Smith’s revelations, and of the God that inspired him. Their digging in several places was in compliance with peeper Smith’s revelations, who would attend with his peep-stone in his hat, and his hat drawn over his face, and would tell them how deep they would have to go; but when they would find no trace of the chest of money, he would peep again, and weep like a child, and tell them the enchantment had removed it on account of some sin or thoughtless word; finally the enchantment became so strong that he could not see, and so the business was abandoned. Smith could weep and shed tears in abundance at any time, if he chose.

But while he was engaged in looking through his peep-stone and old white hat, directing the digging for money, and boarding at Uncle Isaac Hale’s, he formed an intimacy with Mr. Hale’s daughter Emma, and after the abandonment of the money digging speculation, he consumated the elopement and marriage with the said Emma Hale, and she became his accomplice in his humbug golden bible and Mormon religion.

The statement that the prophet Joseph Smith, jr. made in our hearing, at the commencement of his translating his book, in Harmony, as to the manner of his finding the plates, was as follows.

Our recollection of the precise language may be faulty, but as to the substance, the following is correct:

He said that by a dream he was informed that at such a place in a certain hill, in an iron box, were some gold plates with curious engravings, which he must get and translate, and write a book; that the plates were to be kept concealed from every human being for a certain time, some two or three years; that he went to the place and dug till he came to the stone that covered the box, when he was knocked down; that he again attempted to remove the stone, and was again knocked down; this attempt was made the third time, and the third time he was knocked down. Then he exclaimed, “Why can’t I get it?” or words to that effect; and then he saw a man standing over the spot, which to him appeared like a Spaniard, having a long beard coming down over his breast to about here. (Smith putting his hand to the pit of his stomach) with his (the ghost’s) throat cut from ear to ear, and the blood streaming down, who told him that he could not get it alone; that another person whom he, Smith, would know at first sight, must come with him, and then he could get it. And when Smith saw Miss Emma Hale, he knew that she was the person, and that after they were married, she went with him to near the place, and stood with her back toward him, while he dug up the box, which he rolled up in his frock, and she helped carry it home. That in the same box with the plates were spectacles; the bows were of gold, and the eyes were stone, and by looking through these sbectacles [sic] all the characters on the plates were translated into English.

In all this narrative, there was not one word about “visions of God,” or of angels, or heavenly revelations. All his information was by that dream, and that bleeding ghost. The heavenly visions and messages of angels, etc, contained in Mormon books, were after-thoughts, revised to order. The moving of Smith from York state to Harmony, Pa., has been stated by Mr. Hale, and while he, Smith, was in Harmony, Pa., translating his book, he made the above statements in our presence to Rev. N. Lewis.

It was here also, that he joined the M. E. church. He presented himself in a very serious and humble manner, and the minister, not suspecting evil, put his name on the class book, in the absence of some of the official members, among whom was the undersigned, Joseph Lewis, who, when he learned what was done, took with him Joshua McKune, and had a talk with Smith. They told him plainly that such a character as he was a disgrace to the church, that he could not be a member of the church unless he broke off his sins by repentance, made public confession, renounced his fraudulent and hypocritical practices, and gave some evidence that he intended to reform and conduct himself somewhat nearer like a christian than he had done. They gave him his choice, to go before the class, and publicly ask to have his name stricken from the class book, or stand a disciplinary investigation. He chose the former, and immediately withdrew his name. So his name as a member of the class was on the book only three days. — It was the general opinion that his only object in joining the church was to bolster up his reputation, and gain the sympathy and help of christians; that is, putting on the cloak of religion to serve the devil in.

We will add one more sample of his prophetic power and practice, while translating his book. One of the neighbors whom Smith was owing, had a piece of corn on a rather wet and backward piece of ground; and as Smith was owing him, he wanted Smith to help hoe corn. Smith came on but to get clear of the work, and the debt, said: “If I kneel down and pray in your corn, it will grow just as well as if hoed.” So he prayed in the corn, and insured its maturity without cultivation, and that the frost would not hurt it. But the corn was a failure in growth, and was killed by the frost.

This sample of prophetic power was related to us by those present, and no one questioned its truth.

Joseph Lewis,

Hiel Lewis.


The Amboy Journal, June 11, 1879, p.1

I, [Lewis] with Joshua McKune, a local preacher at that time, I think in June, 1828, heard on Saturday, that Joe Smith had joined the [Methodist] church on Wednesday afternoon, (as it was customary in those days to have circuit preaching at my father’s house on week-day). We thought it was a disgrace to the church to have a practicing necromancer, a dealer in enchantments and bleeding ghosts, in it. So on Sunday we went to father’s, the place of meeting that day, and got there in season to see Smith and talked with him some time in father’s shop before the meeting. Told him that his occupation, habits, and moral character were at variance with the discipline, that his name would be a disgrace to the church, that there should have been recantation, confession and at least promised reformation-. That he could that day publicly ask that his name be stricken from the class book, or stand an investigation. He chose the former, and did that very day make the request that his name be taken off the class book. (The Amboy Journal, June 11, 1879, p.1)

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