Mormonism and Wikipedia/Joseph Smith, Jr./Early years/051909

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A FairMormon Analysis of Wikipedia: Mormonism and Wikipedia/Joseph Smith, Jr./Early years
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An analysis of Wikipedia article "Joseph Smith, Jr." (Version 19 May 2009)


Early years

- Wikipedia Main Article: years Joseph Smith, Jr.–Early years Wikipedia Footnotes: Joseph Smith, Jr.–Notes A FAIR Opinion

Joseph Smith, Jr. was born on December 23, 1805, in Sharon, Vermont to Joseph and Lucy Mack Smith, a poor farm family. In Joseph's early teen years, they moved to western New York—a region of intense religious activity during the Second Great Awakening—where they continued to farm just outside the town of Palmyra. Although Smith never joined a church during his youth, he did read the Bible and was also influenced by the folk religion of that time and place.

  •  Violates Wikipedia: Citing sources off-site— There is either no citation to support the statement or the citation given is incorrect.
    Violated by COGDEN —Diff: off-site

    The statement that Joseph was "influenced by the folk religion of that time and place" is not supported by the citation given.

First Vision

- Wikipedia Main Article: Vision Joseph Smith, Jr.–First Vision Wikipedia Footnotes: Joseph Smith, Jr.–Notes A FAIR Opinion

As he later recorded the experience, Smith said that as a fourteen-year-old in 1820 he had received a theophany, an appearance of God to man, an event that Latter Day Saints commonly call the First Vision.

Smith said that he had been concerned about what religious denomination to join and prayed in a nearby woods (now called the Sacred Grove). There he had a vision in which he saw God the Father and his Son, Jesus Christ, as two separate, glorious, resurrected beings of flesh and bone. They told him that no contemporary church was correct in its teachings and that he should join none of them.

Smith recorded several different accounts of this experience,

  • Richard L. Bushman, Joseph Smith and the Beginnings of Mormonism (Chicago: University of Illinois Press, 1984), 39-40. Early accounts of the First Vision, including one handwritten by Joseph Smith himself, do not mention the appearance of the Father and the Son but refer to an angel, a spirit, many angels, or the Son. The account identifying the angelic visitors as the Father and the Son did not appear until 1838.

and the version of the First Vision later canonized by the LDS Church was not publicly revealed until 1842.

  • March 1, 1842, Times and Seasons, in the Wentworth Letter. The story of the vision was incorporated with some changes into Joseph Smith's History of the Church, 1:15-20 Joseph Smith—History
  • According to Smith he reported his vision to a local minister, who he said pronounced it "of the devil" because "there were no such things as visions or revelations in these days; that all such things had ceased with the apostles, and there would never be any more of them." Joseph Smith - History 1:20-25.
  • Although Smith said he was persecuted by his neighbors for claiming that he had had this vision, there is no surviving documentation of the persecution. Fawn Brodie scoffed that "the Palmyra newspapers, which in later years gave him plenty of unpleasant publicity, took no notice of Joseph's vision at the time it was supposed to have occurred." Brodie, 23.
  • Richard Bushman says that Smith "probably exaggerated the reaction." Bushman (2005) , p. 43.
  • David Persuitte noted that, though Smith said later that he had told his family of the vision shortly after it occurred, there is evidence that the family was not told about the vision until much later. He also noted that there was no published evidence nor "mention of it in any of the writings of any of the church members of the time." David Persuitte, Joseph Smith and the Origins of the Book of Mormon , 2nd ed. (Jefferson, North Carolina: McFarland & Company, 2000), 20-32.
  • Even Richard Bushman says that "most early converts probably never heard about the 1820 vision." Bushman, Rough Stone Rolling, 39.
  • The wiki editors are trying to include much of the "First Vision" article in the footnotes of this article.
  • See: First Vision

Golden plates

- Wikipedia Main Article: plates Joseph Smith, Jr.–Golden plates Wikipedia Footnotes: Joseph Smith, Jr.–Notes A FAIR Opinion

Meanwhile Smith participated in a "craze for treasure hunting."

  • The treasure-seeking culture in early 19th century New England is described in Quinn (1998) , pp. 25–26.
  • As Richard Bushman writes, "The Smiths were as susceptible as their neighbors to treasure-seeking folklore. In addition to rod and stone divining, the Smiths probably believed in the rudimentary astrology found in the ubiquitous almanacs. Magical parchments handed down in the Hyrum Smith family may have originally belonged to Joseph Sr. The visit of the angel and the discovery of the gold plates would have confirmed the belief in supernatural power. For people in a magical frame of mind, Moroni sounded like one of the the spirits who stood guard over treasure in the tales of treasure-seeking." Bushman, Rough Stone Rolling, 50.

Beginning as a youth in the early 1820s, Smith was paid to act as a "seer," using seer stones in mostly unsuccessful attempts to locate lost items and buried treasure.

  • For a detailed look at Smith's money digging activities, see Persuitte: 33-53. In May 1838, Smith admitted that he was what was called a "money digger", but said that it "was never a very profitable job to him, as he only got fourteen dollars a month for it". Joseph Smith, "Answers to Questions," Elders Journal (Kirtland, Ohio) 1 (July 1838): 42-43 in EMD, 1: 52-53.
  • Erie Canal workers made eight to twelve dollars a month. EMD, 1: 53, n. 2.
  • The use of such stones for treasure hunting was common in Joseph Smith's New York. In 1825, the Palmyra newspaper reprinted a story about the discovery of a treasure in Orleans County "by the help of a mineral stone, which becomes transparent when placed in a hat and the light excluded by the face of him who looks into it." "Wonderful Discovery," Wayne Sentinel, December 27, 1825, in Quinn, 173

Smith's contemporaries describe Smith's procedure for using seer stones to hunt for treasure as placing the stone in a white stovepipe hat, putting his face over the hat to block the light, and then "seeing" the information in the reflections of the stone.

  • Harris (1833) , pp. 253-54;
  • Hale (1834) , p. 265;
  • Clark (1842) , p. 225;
  • Turner (1851) , p. 216;
  • Harris (1859) , p. 164;
  • Tucker (1867) , pp. 20–21;
  • Lapham (1870) , p. 305;
  • Lewis (Lewis) , p. 1;
  • Mather (1880) , p. 199.
  • Martin Harris said that Smith had found a lost pin by putting his seer stone in his hat, "the old white hat—and placed his face in his hat....I know he did not look out of the hat until after he had picked up the pin." Harris interview with Joel Tiffany, 1859 in EMD, 2:303.
  • A skeptical contemporary, Pomeroy Tucker, recalled Smith searching for gold and silver buried in the earth: "These discoveries finally became too dazzling for his eyes in daylight, and he had to shade his vision by looking at the stone in his hat!" Pomeroy Tucker, Origin, Rise, and Progress of Mormonism (New York: D. Appleton and Co. 1867), 19-20, in EMD, 3:96.
  • Michael Morse, Smith's brother-in-law, stated that he had watched Smith translate the Book of Mormon on several occasions: "The mode of procedure consisted in Joseph's placing the Seer Stone in the crown of a hat, then putting his face into the hat, so as to entirely cover his face." Richard S. Van Wagoner and Steven C. Walker, "Joseph Smith: 'The Gift of Seeing,'" Dialogue: A Journal of Mormon Thought 15 (Summer 1982): 50-53.
  • Smith's wife Emma stated that she took dictation from her husband as she sat next to him, and that he would put his face into a hat with the stone in it, dictating for hours at a time.Smith (1879) , pp. 536-40.
  • Peterson (2005, FARMS review, 17:2, accessed online Feb 21, 2009, [1]) argues that having his face buried in a hat, as witnesses attest, "would also have made it effectively impossible for him to read from a manuscript placed somehow at the bottom of the darkened hat."

His preferred stone, which some said he also used later to translate the golden plates, was chocolate-colored and about the size of an egg, found in a deep well he helped dig for one of his neighbors.

  • Harris (1859) , p. 163;
  • Lapham (1870) , pp. 305–306.
  • The stone was found in either 1819 (Tucker (1867) , pp. 19–20 Bennett (1893) ) or 1822 Chase (1833) , p. 240.
  • Assistant church historian B. H. Roberts referred to this stone as "a chocolate-colored, somewhat egg-shaped stone which the Prophet found while digging a well in company with his brother Hyrum, for a Mr. Clark Chase, near Palmyra, N. Y. It possessed the qualities of Urim and Thummim, since by means of it—as described above,—as well as by means of the Interpreters found with the Nephite record, Joseph was able to translate the characters engraven on the plates." B. H. Roberts, A Comprehensive History of the Church (Salt Lake City: Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, 1930), 1:129.

During this period Smith said he experienced a visitation from an angel named Moroni

  • Joseph Smith - History 1:50
  •  Correct, per cited sources

who directed him to a long-buried book, inscribed on golden plates, which contained a record of God's dealings with ancient Israelite inhabitants of the Americas. This record, along with other artifacts (including a breastplate and what Smith referred to as the Urim and Thummim), was buried in a hill near his home. On September 22, 1827, Smith said that after four years of waiting and preparation, the angel allowed him to take possession of the plates and other artifacts. Almost immediately thereafter local people tried to discover where the plates were hidden.

  • Joseph Smith - History 1:59-60
  •  Correct, per cited sources

Smith left his family farm in October 1825 and was hired by Josiah Stowel, of nearby Chenango county, to search for a Spanish silver mine by gazing at his seer stone.

  • Joseph Smith—History 1; Bushman, 48. According to Lucy Mack Smith, Stowel enlisted Joseph "on account of having heard that he possessed certain keys by which he could discern things invisible to the natural eye."

In March 1826, as a result of his using his seer stone to search for the silver mine, Smith was charged with being a "disorderly person and an impostor" by a court in nearby Bainbridge.

  • Hitchens (2007) , pp. 161; Morgan, D: "Dale Morgan on Early Mormonism: Correspondence and a New History", Appendix A. Signature Books, 1986; Bushman (2005) , p. 70;
  • Hill (1976) , pp. 223-233; Roberts, A. Comprehensive History of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, Vol. 1, 211.
  • The following writers cited differing charges against Smith in Bainbridge: Benton (1831): 'a disorderly person'; Cowdery (1835): 'a disorderly person'; Noble (1842): 'under the Vagrant act'; Marshall (1873): 'a disorderly person and an imposter'; Purple (1877): 'a vagrant, without visible means of livelihood'; Tuttle (1882): 'a disorderly person and an imposter'; Judge Neely: 'a misdemeanor'. 2. list of writers' citing differing verdict against Smith in Bainbridge: Benton: 'tried and condemned'...'designedly allowed to escape'; Cowdery: 'honorably acquitted'; Noble: 'was condemned, took leg bail'; Marshall: 'guilty?'; Tuttle: 'guilty?'; Purple: 'discharged'; Constable De Zeng: 'not a trial'.
  • Persuitte, 40-53, provides a detailed look at the court proceedings and provides evidence that it was actually "a pre-trial "examination" to determine if a trial should take place. He also concludes that Smith was "designedly allowed to escape," with the understanding that he leave the county and not come back.

Smith also met Emma Hale during this period and married her on January 18, 1827. Emma eventually gave birth to seven children, three of whom died shortly after birth. The Smiths also adopted twins.

  • The children who died were Alvin, who lived only a few hours (June 15, 1828), and twins, Thaddeus and Louisa,(April 30, 1831). The Smiths adopted twins, Joseph and Julia, the children of Julia Clapp Murdock and John Murdock after Julia Clapp Murdock died in childbirth shortly after Emma lost her own twins. Joseph and Emma Smith had four sons who lived to maturity: Joseph Smith III (November 6, 1832), Frederick Granger Williams Smith (June 29, 1836), Alexander Hale Smith (June 2, 1838), and David Hyrum Smith November 17, 1844, born after Joseph's death.
  • Although it seems unlikely that Joseph Smith would not have any children by his polygamous wives, DNA testing has so far not proved a relationship to likely candidates. Research focuses on Smith family, Deseret News (2005-05-28);
  • DNA tests rule out 2 as Smith descendants: Scientific advances prove no genetic link, Deseret News (2007-11-10);
  • Perego, Ugo A. , "Reconstructing the Y-Chromosome of Joseph Smith, Jr.: Genealogical Applications", Journal of Mormon History (See Children of Joseph Smith, Jr.)
  •  Violates Wikipedia: Citing sources off-site— There is either no citation to support the statement or the citation given is incorrect.

    The weasel phrase "DNA testing so far has not proven" leads the reader to believe that nothing has yet been proven. In fact, reading just the titles of the cited sources shows that research has disproven some of the likely candidates.
  • See: Joseph Smith and polygamy/Children of polygamous marriages


Wikipedia references for "Joseph Smith, Jr."
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  • Allen, James B., The Significance of Joseph Smith's "First Vision" in Mormon Thought off-site .
  • (1992), The Mormon Experience University of Illinois Press .
  • (1980), The Lion and the Lady: Brigham Young and Emma Smith off-site .
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  • Bloom, Harold, (1992), The American Religion: The Emergence of the Post-Christian Nation Simon & Schuster .
  • Booth, Ezra, Mormonism—Nos. VIII–IX (Letters to the editor) off-site .
  • Brodie, Fawn M., (1971), No Man Knows My History: The Life of Joseph Smith Knopf .
  • Brooke, , (1994), The Refiner's Fire: The Making of Mormon Cosmology, 1644–1844 Cambridge University Press .
  • Bushman, Richard Lyman, (2005), Joseph Smith: Rough Stone Rolling , New York: Knopf .
  • Clark, John A., (1842), Gleanings by the Way , Philadelphia: W.J. & J.K Simmon off-site .
  • Compton, Todd, (1997), In Sacred Loneliness: The Plural Wives of Joseph Smith Signature Books .
  • Foster, Lawrence, (1981), Religion and Sexuality: The Shakers, the Mormons, and the Oneida Community , New York: Oxford University Press .
  • Harris, Martin, (1859), Mormonism—No. II off-site .
  • Hill, Donna, (1977), Joseph Smith: The first Mormon , Garden City, New York: Doubleday & Co. .
  • Hill, Marvin S., (1976), Joseph Smith and the 1826 Trial: New Evidence and New Difficulties off-site .
  • Hill, Marvin S., (1989), Quest for Refuge: The Mormon Flight from American Pluralism Signature Books off-site .
  • Howe, Eber Dudley, (1834), Mormonism Unvailed: Or, A Faithful Account of that Singular Imposition and Delusion, from its Rise to the Present Time , Painesville, Ohio: Telegraph Press off-site .
  • Hullinger, Robert N., (1992), Joseph Smith's Response to Skepticism Signature Books off-site .
  • Jessee, Dean, (1976), Joseph Knight's Recollection of Early Mormon History off-site .
  • Lapham, [La]Fayette, (1870), Interview with the Father of Joseph Smith, the Mormon Prophet, Forty Years Ago. His Account of the Finding of the Sacred Plates off-site .
  • Larson, Stan, (1978), The King Follett Discourse: A Newly Amalgamated Text off-site .
  • Mormon History off-site .
  • Mack, Solomon, (1811), A Narraitve [sic] of the Life of Solomon Mack Windsor: Solomon Mack off-site .
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  • Marquardt, H. Michael, (1999), The Joseph Smith Revelations: Text and Commentary Signature Books .
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  • Matzko, John, (2007), The Encounter of the Young Joseph Smith with Presbyterianism off-site .
  • Morgan, Dale, Walker, John Phillip (editor) (1986), Dale Morgan on Early Mormonism: Correspondence and a New History Signature Books off-site .
  • (2008), Joseph Smith Jr.: reappraisals after two centuries Oxford University Press .
  • Newell, Linda King, (1994), Mormon Enigma: Emma Hale Smith University of Illinois Press .
  • (1999), Mormon America: The Power and the Promise HarperSanFrancisco .
  • Persuitte, David, (2000), Joseph Smith and the origins of the Book of Mormon McFarland & Co. .
  • Phelps, W.W. (editor) (1833), A Book of Commandments, for the Government of the Church of Christ , Zion: William Wines Phelps & Co. off-site .
  • Prince, Gregory A, (1995), Power From On High: The Development of Mormon Priesthood Signature Books .
  • Quinn, D. Michael, (1994), The Mormon Hierarchy: Origins of Power Signature Books .
  • Quinn, D. Michael, (1998), Early Mormonism and the Magic World View Signature Books .
  • Remini, , (2002), Joseph Smith: A Penguin Life Penguin Group .
  • Roberts, B. H. (editor) (1902), History of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints , Salt Lake City: Deseret News off-site .
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  • Roberts, B. H. (editor) (1905), History of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints , Salt Lake City: Deseret News off-site .
  • Roberts, B. H. (editor) (1909), History of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints , Salt Lake City: Deseret News off-site .
  • Shipps, Jan, (1985), Mormonism: The Story of a New Religious Tradition University of Illinois Press .
  • Smith, George D., (1994), Nauvoo Roots of Mormon Polygamy, 1841–46: A Preliminary Demographic Report off-site .
  • Smith, George D, (2008), Nauvoo Polygamy: "...but we called it celestial marriage" Signature Books .
  • Smith, Joseph, Jr., (1830), The Book of Mormon: An Account Written by the Hand of Mormon, Upon Plates Taken from the Plates of Nephi , Palmyra, New York: E. B. Grandin off-site . See Book of Mormon.
  • Smith, Joseph, Jr., Jessee, Dean C (editor) (1832), Personal Writings of Joseph Smith , Salt Lake City: Deseret Book .
  • Jessee, Dean C (editor) (1839–1843), Personal Writings of Joseph Smith Deseret Book .
  • (1835), Doctrine and Covenants of the Church of the Latter Day Saints: Carefully Selected from the Revelations of God , Kirtland, Ohio: F. G. Williams & Co off-site . See Doctrine and Covenants.
  • Smith, Joseph, Jr., Church History [Wentworth Letter] off-site . See Wentworth letter.
  • Smith, Lucy Mack, (1853), Biographical Sketches of Joseph Smith the Prophet, and His Progenitors for Many Generations , Liverpool: S.W. Richards off-site . See The History of Joseph Smith by His Mother
  • Tucker, Pomeroy, (1867), Origin, Rise and Progress of Mormonism , New York: D. Appleton off-site .
  • Turner, Orsamus, (1852), History of the Pioneer Settlement of Phelps and Gorham's Purchase, and Morris' Reserve , Rochester, New York: William Alling off-site .
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  • Van Wagoner, Richard S., (1992), Mormon Polygamy: A History Signature Books .
  • Vogel, Dan, (1994), The Locations of Joseph Smith's Early Treasure Quests off-site .
  • Vogel, Dan, (2004), Joseph Smith: The Making of a Prophet Signature Books .
  • Widmer, Kurt, (2000), Mormonism and the Nature of God: A Theological Evolution, 1830–1915 McFarland .

Further reading

Mormonism and Wikipedia

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