Joseph Smith Hunts for Treasure



We, the undersigned, do firmly agree, & by these presents bind ourselves, to fulfill and abide by the hereafter specified articles:
First--That if anything of value should be obtained at a certain place in Pennsylvania near a Wm. Hale's supposed to be a valuable mine of either Gold or Silver and also to contain coined money and bars or ingots of Gold or Silver, and at which several hands have been at work during a considerable part of the past summer, we do agree to have it divided in the following manner, viz.: Josiah Stowell, Calvin Stowell and Wm. Hale to take two-thirds, and Charles Newton, Wm. I. Wiley, and the Widow Harper to take the other third. And we further agree that Joseph Smith, Sen. and Joseph Smith Jr. shall be considered as having two shares, two elevenths of all the property that may be obtained, the shares to be taken equally from each third.
Second--And we further agree, that in consideration of the expense and labor to which the following named persons have been at (John F. Shephard, Elihu Stowell and John Grant) to consider them as equal sharers in the mine after all the coined money and bars or ingots are obtained by the undersigned, their shares to be taken out from each share; and we further agree to remunerate all the three above named persons in a handsome manner for all their time, expense and labor which they have been or may be at, until the mine is opened, if anything should be obtained; otherwise they are to lose their time, expense and labor.
Third--And we further agree that all the expense which has or may accrue until the mine is opened, shall be equally borne by the proprietors or each third and that after the mine is opened the expense shall be equally borne by each of the sharers.
Township of Harmony, Pa., Nov. 1, 1825. In presence of


("An Interesting Document. Articles of Agreement Between Joe Smith, the Father of Mormonism and Other Persons in 1825," Salt Lake Daily Tribune, April 23, 1880, 4.)

Extract from Affidavit Isaac Hale
I first became acquainted with Joseph Smith, Jr. in November, 1825. He was at that time in the employ of a set of men who were called "money-diggers;" and his occupation was that of seeing, or pretending to see by means of a stone placed in his hat, and his hat closed over his face. In this way he pretended to discover minerals and hidden treasure. His appearance at this time, was that of a careless young man - not very well educated, and very saucy and insolent to his father.

Smith, and his father, with several other 'money-diggers' boarded at my house while they were employed in digging for a mine that they supposed had been opened and worked by the Spaniards, many years since. Young Smith gave the 'money-diggers' great encouragement, at first, but when they had arrived in digging, to near the place where he had stated an immense treasure would be found - he said the enchantment was so powerful that he could not see. They then became discourged, and soon after dispersed. This took place about the 17th of November, 1825; and one of the company gave me his note for $12[.]68 for his board, which is still unpaid. (Affidavit of Isaac Hale, March 20, 1834. "Mormonism," Susquehanna Register, and Northern Pennsylvanian 9 (May 1, 1834):1, Montrose, Pennsylvania.)

Abram W. Benton of South Bainbridge, New York wrote about Joseph Smith Jr.

For several years preceding the appearance of his book, he was about the country in the character of a glass-looker : pretending, by means of a certain stone, or glass, which he put in a hat, to be able to discover lost goods, hidden treasures, mines of gold and silver, &c. Although he constantly failed in his pretensions, still he had his dupes who put implicit confidence in all his words. In this town, a wealthy farmer, named Josiah Stowell, together with others, spent large sums of money in digging for hidden money, which this Smith pretended he could see, and told them where to dig; but they never found their treasure. At length the public, becoming wearied with the base imposition which he was palming upon the credulity of the ignorant, for the purpose of sponging his living from their earnings, had him arrested as a disorderly person, tried and condemned before a court of Justice. But, considering his youth, (he then being a minor) and thinking he might reform his conduct, he was designedly allowed to escape. ([Abram W. Benton], "Mormonites," Evangelical Magazine and Gospel Advocate (Utica, New York) 2 [April 9, 1831]:120.)

Joseph Smith before Justice Albert Neely
Prisoner [Joseph Smith Jr.] brought before Court March 20, 1826. Prisoner examined: says that he came from the town of Palmyra, and had been at the house of Josiah Stowel[l] in Bainbridge most of time since; had small part of time been employed in looking for mines, but the major part had been employed by said Stowel[l] on his farm, and going to school. That he had a certain stone which he had occasionally looked at to determine where hidden treasures in the bowels of the earth were; that he professed to tell in this manner where gold mines were a distance under ground, and had looked for Mr. Stowel[l] several times, and had informed him where he could find these treasures, and Mr. Stowel[l] had been engaged in digging for them. That at Palmyra he pretended to tell by looking at this stone where coined money was buried in Pennsylvania, and while at Palmyra had frequently ascertained in that way where lost property was of various kinds; that he had occasionally been in the habit of looking through this stone to find lost property for three years, but of late had pretty much given it up on account of its injuring his health, especially his eyes, making them sore; that he did not solicit business of this kind, and had always rather declined having anything to do with this business. (Charles Marshall, "The Original Prophet. By a Visitor to Salt Lake City," Fraser's Magazine 7 [Feb. 1873]:229-30; London, England)

Extract from Affidavit of Willard Chase

I became acquainted with the Smith family, known as the authors of the Mormon Bible, in the year 1820. At that time, they were engaged in the money digging business, which they followed until the latter part of the season of 1827. In the year 1822, I was engaged in digging a well. I employed Alvin and Joseph Smith to assist me; the latter of whom is now known as the Mormon prophet. After digging about twenty feet below the surface of the earth, we discovered a singularly appearing stone, which excited my curiosity. I brought it to the top of the well, and as we were examining it, Joseph put it into his hat, and then his face into the top of his hat. It has been said by Smith, that he brought the stone from the well; but this is false. There was no one in the well but myself. The next morning he came to me, and wished to obtain the stone, alledging that he could see in it; but I told him I did not wish to part with it on account of its being a curiosity, but would lend it. (Affidavit of Willard Chase, circa December 11, 1833, Manchester, Ontario County, New York in E. D. Howe, Mormonism Unvailed [Painesville (Ohio): Printed and Published by the Author, 1834], 240-41, emphasis omitted)

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