Early life of Joseph Smith
Joseph Smith was an American religious leader and the founder of the Latter Day Saint movement whose current followers include members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints) and members of the Community of Christ. The early life of Joseph Smith covers his life from his birth to the end of 1827. Smith was born in Sharon, the fifth of eleven children born to Joseph and Lucy Mack Smith. By 1817, Smith's family had moved to the "burned-over district" of western New York, an area swept by religious revivals during the Second Great Awakening. Smith family members held divergent views about organized religion, believed in visions and prophecies, engaged in certain folk religious practices typical of the era. Smith investigated Methodism, but he was disillusioned with the churches of his day. Around 1820 Smith is said to have experienced a theophany, now known as his First Vision among adherents. Around this time he, along with other male members of his family, was hired to assist in searching for buried treasure.
In 1823, Smith said an angel directed him to a nearby hill where he said was buried a book of golden plates containing a Christian history of ancient American civilizations. According to Smith, the angel prevented him from taking the plates in 1823, telling him to come back in a year. Smith made annual visits to the hill over the next three years, reporting to his family that he had not yet been allowed to take the plates. Meanwhile, during one of Smith's treasure hunting expeditions, he met and fell in love with Emma Smith from Harmony Township, Susquehanna County, whom he married in 1827. Returning with Emma to the hill in 1827, Smith said the angel allowed him to take the plates but forbade him from showing them to anyone except those to whom the angel directed; as news of the plates spread, Smith's former treasure hunting associates sought to share in the proceeds, ransacking places they thought the plates were hidden. Intending to translate the plates himself, Smith moved to Harmony Township to live with his in-laws.
Smith was born in Sharon, the fifth of eleven children born to Joseph Smith Sr. and Lucy Mack Smith. Through modern DNA testing of Smith's relatives, it's that the Smith family were of Irish descent originally. Smith carried the Y-DNA marker R-M222, a subclade of Haplogroup R1b found entirely in people of Northwestern Irish descent today; the Smiths were a middling farm family, but suffered a fateful loss when Smith Sr. after speculating in ginseng and being cheated by a business associate, was financially ruined. After he sold the family farm to pay his debts, the Smiths "crossed the boundary dividing independent ownership from tenancy and day labor." In the next fourteen years, the Smiths moved seven times. Despite the moves and the financial woes, Lucy Smith remembered the period of Joseph Smith's early childhood as "perfectly comfortable both for food and raiment as well as that, necessary to a respectable appearance in society." During the winter of 1812–1813, typhoid fever struck along the Connecticut Valley, including the area around Lebanon, New Hampshire, where the Smiths had moved.
A number of family members fell ill, Joseph experienced a common complication whereby typhoid bacteria infected bone, in Smith's case, the shin bone. Lucy claimed that she had refused to permit her son's leg to be amputated. After the horrific early nineteenth-century surgery without either anesthetic or antiseptic, Smith recovered, though he used crutches for several years and had a slight limp for the remainder of his life. In 1814 the Smiths moved back across the Connecticut River to Norwich, where they suffered three seasons of crop failures, the last the result of the Year Without a Summer; the extended Smith clan had moved west to New York, in 1817, Joseph Smith Sr. traveled alone to Palmyra, New York, followed shortly by the rest of his family—although not before Lucy Smith was forced to settle with some last-minute creditors. In Palmyra village, Smith Sr. and his oldest sons hired themselves out as common laborers, ran a "cake and beer shop," and peddled refreshments from a cart. In 1820, the family contracted to pay for a 100-acre farm just outside Palmyra in Manchester Township.
The Smith family first built a log home in 1822, under the supervision of Joseph Smith's oldest brother Alvin, they began building a larger frame house. Alvin died in November 1823 as a result of being given calomel for "bilious fever", the house remained uncompleted for a year. By this time Joseph Smith Sr. may have abdicated family leadership to Alvin, in 1825, the Smiths were unable to make their mortgage payments. When their creditor foreclosed, the family persuaded a local Quaker, Lemuel Durfee, to buy the farm and rent it to them. In 1829, the Smiths and five of their children moved back into the log house, with Hyrum Smith and his wife. Joseph Smith had little formal schooling, but may have attended school in Palmyra and received instruction in his home. Young Joseph worked on his family farm and took an occasional odd job or worked for nearby farmers, his mother described him as "much less inclined to the perusal of books than any of the rest of the children, but far more given to meditation and deep study."
Lucy Smith noted that though he never read through the Bible until he was at least eighteen, he was imaginative an
Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith (book)
Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith is a book compiling selected sermons and portions of sermons and sundry teachings of Joseph Smith, the first prophet of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. The title page reads as follows: Apostle Joseph Fielding Smith is given credit for editing the book, although he had extensive help from fellow researchers; the book is published by Deseret Book and is a used reference work among membership of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. In 1993, Deseret Book issued a revised edition of the work edited by Richard C. Galbraith entitled Scriptural Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith; this revised work retains the basic text of the work but supplements it with extensive footnoted references to scriptures of the LDS Church. History of the Church, a seven-volume work, the source of the selections in Teachings Smith, Joseph Fielding Smith. Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith. Salt Lake City: Deseret Book. OCLC 718055 Smith, Joseph Fielding Smith.
Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith. Salt Lake City: Deseret Book. ISBN 0-87579-243-X. OCLC 22984603 Smith, Joseph Fielding Smith & Richard C. Galbraith. Scriptural Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith. Salt Lake City: Deseret Book. ISBN 0-87579-647-8; the book published online by the Book of Abraham Project
Pearl of Great Price (Mormonism)
The Pearl of Great Price is part of the canonical standard works of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and some other Latter Day Saint denominations. The first paragraph of the Introductory Note in the LDS edition of the Pearl of Great Price states: "The Pearl of Great Price is a selection of choice materials touching many significant aspects of the faith and doctrine of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints; these items were produced by Joseph Smith and were published in the Church periodicals of his day." The name of the book is derived from the Parable of the Pearl told by Jesus in Matthew 13. The Pearl of Great Price contains five sections: The Book of Moses begins with the "Visions of Moses," a prologue to the story of the creation and the fall of man, continues with material corresponding to Smith's revision of the first six chapters of the Book of Genesis, interrupted by two chapters of "extracts from the prophecy of Enoch". Portions of the Book of Moses were published separately by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in 1851, but combined and published as the Book of Moses in the Pearl of Great Price.
The same material is published by the Community of Christ as parts of its Doctrine and Covenants and Inspired Version of the Bible. The Book of Abraham is an 1835 work produced by Joseph Smith that he said was based on Egyptian papyri purchased from a traveling mummy exhibition. According to Smith, the book was "a translation of some ancient records... purporting to be the writings of Abraham, while he was in Egypt, called the Book of Abraham, written by his own hand, upon papyrus". The text that Smith produced describes a story of Abraham's early life, including a vision of the cosmos; the Book of Abraham was canonized in 1880 by the LDS Church as part of the Pearl of Great Price. Thus, it forms a doctrinal foundation for the LDS Church and Mormon fundamentalist denominations of the Latter Day Saint movement, it is not considered to be a religious text by the Community of Christ. Other sects in the Latter Day Saint movement have various opinions regarding the Book of Abraham, with some rejecting and some accepting the text as inspired scripture.
The book contains several doctrines that are distinct to Mormonism, such as the concept of God organizing eternal, pre-existing elements to create the universe instead of creating it ex nihilo. The Book of Abraham papyri were thought lost in the 1871 Great Chicago Fire. However, in 1966, several fragments of the papyri were found in the archives of the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York, in the LDS Church archives, they are now referred to as the Joseph Smith Papyri. Upon examination by professional Mormon and non-Mormon Egyptologists, these fragments were found to bear no resemblance to Smith's interpretation, were identified as common Egyptian funerary texts, dating to about the first century BC; as a result, the Book of Abraham has been the source of significant controversy, with criticism from Egyptologists and Mormon apologists defending its authenticity. Joseph Smith–Matthew is an excerpt from Joseph Smith's "retranslation" of portions of the Gospel of Matthew, it was published in 1831 in Kirtland, Ohio, in an undated broadsheet as "Extract from the New Translation of the Bible".
Joseph Smith–Matthew includes Smith's retranslation of Matthew 23:39 and all of Matthew chapter 24. The text deals with Jesus' prophecy of the coming destruction of Jerusalem and of similar calamities that will precede his Second Coming. Joseph Smith–Matthew contains significant changes and additions to the original biblical text. Joseph Smith–History is an excerpt from the autobiographical record of some of the early events in Joseph Smith's life. Like many of Smith's publications, it was dictated to a scribe; the incidents described in Joseph Smith–History include the First Vision and the visitation of the angel Moroni. In its current form, it ends with the translation of the Book of Mormon, shortly before the foundation of Smith's Church of Christ, though the original Times and Seasons serial it is based on continued the story until the mid-1830s; the Articles of Faith are a creed composed by Joseph Smith as part of an 1842 letter sent to "Long" John Wentworth, editor of the Chicago Democrat, first published in the Latter Day Saint newspaper Times and Seasons.
It is a concise listing of thirteen fundamental doctrines of Mormonism. Most Latter Day Saint denominations view the articles as an authoritative statement of basic theology. For some sects, they are known collectively as "An Epitome of Faith and Doctrine"; the original contents of the Pearl of Great Price were different, reproducing material found in the Doctrine and Covenants and a poem entitled "Oh Say What is Truth?". In 1878, some material was added to the Book of Moses; the Pearl of Great Price was canonized by the LDS Church in 1880. In 1902, the material reproduced in the Covenants was removed. Two other documents, Vision of the Celestial Kingdom and Vision of the Redemption of the Dead, were added to the Pearl of Great Price in 1976 and moved to the LDS Church edition of the Doctrine and Covenants in 1979; the Pearl of Great Price was first compiled by Franklin D. Richards in England; some items duplicated text, available in the Doctrine and Covenants. It contained the following entries: Extracts from the Prophecy of Enoch A message from God, given to Moses Untitled The Book of Abraham including Facsimile Nos
Death of Joseph Smith
Joseph Smith, the founder and leader of the Latter Day Saint movement, his brother Hyrum Smith were killed by a mob in Carthage, Illinois, on June 27, 1844. The brothers had been in jail awaiting trial when an armed mob of about 200 men stormed the facility, their faces painted black with wet gunpowder. Hyrum was killed first; as he fell, Hyrum shouted, "I'm a dead man, Joseph!" After emptying the pistol with which he tried to defend himself, Joseph was shot several times while trying to escape from a second-story window and fell from that window as he died. Joseph Smith, as mayor of the town of Nauvoo, had ordered the destruction of the facilities producing the Nauvoo Expositor, a newly established newspaper set up by a group of non-Mormons and people who had seceded from the church; the newspaper's first issue was critical of Smith and other church leaders—reporting that Smith was practicing polygamy and claiming he intended to set himself up as a theocratic king. In response, Smith ordered its press destroyed.
The destruction of the press led to charges of riot against the Smith brothers and other members of the Nauvoo City Council. Warrants for his arrest were dismissed by Nauvoo courts. Joseph Smith called on the Nauvoo Legion to protect Nauvoo; the brothers voluntarily traveled to the county seat at Carthage and surrendered to the authorities to face the charges. After surrendering, the brothers were charged with treason against Illinois for declaring martial law; the brothers were in the Carthage jail awaiting trial. Five men were acquitted at a jury trial. At the time of his death, Joseph Smith was running for President of the United States. Smith's death marked a turning point for the church, since members of the Latter Day Saint movement have viewed that the two men were "murdered in cold blood" and were religious martyrs; the Mormons began to move into Hancock County in 1839. After the Mormons' expulsion from Missouri, Joseph Smith went to Washington, DC and met with President Martin Van Buren, seeking intervention and compensation for lost property.
Van Buren said. After returning to Illinois, Smith vowed to join the Whig Party. Most of his supporters switched with him, adding political tensions to the social suspicions in which this group were held. Several of Smith's disaffected associates at Nauvoo and Hancock County, joined together to publish a newspaper called the Nauvoo Expositor, its first and only issue was published June 7, 1844. Based on allegations by some of these associates, the newspaper reported that Smith practiced polygamy, it said. About eight of Smith's wives had been married to other men at the time they married Smith; these women continued to live with their first husband, not Smith. Some accounts say Smith may have had sexual relations with one wife, who in her life stated that he fathered children by one or two of his wives; the reliability of these sources is disputed by some Latter Day Saints. In response to public outrage generated by the paper, the Nauvoo city council passed an ordinance declaring the newspaper a public nuisance designed to promote violence against Smith and his followers.
They reached this decision after lengthy discussion, including citation of William Blackstone's legal canon, which defined a libelous press as a public nuisance. According to the council's minutes, Smith said he "would rather die tomorrow and have the thing smashed, than live and have it go on, for it was exciting the spirit of mobocracy among the people, bringing death and destruction upon us."Under the council's new ordinance, Smith, as Nauvoo's mayor, in conjunction with the city council, ordered the city marshal to destroy the paper and the press on June 10, 1844. By the city marshal's account, the destruction of the press type was carried out orderly and peaceably. However, Charles A. Foster, a co-publisher of the Expositor, reported on June 12 that not only was the printing press destroyed, but that "several hundred minions... injured the building materially". Smith's critics said; some sought legal charges against Smith for the destruction of the press, including charges of treason and inciting riot.
Violent threats were made against the Mormon community. Thomas C. Sharp, editor of the Warsaw Signal, a newspaper hostile to the Mormons, editorialized: War and extermination is inevitable! Citizens ARISE, ONE and ALL!!!—Can you stand by, suffer such INFERNAL DEVILS! To ROB men of their property and RIGHTS, without avenging them. We have no time for comment, every man will make his own. LET IT BE MADE WITH POWDER AND BALL!!! Warrants from outside Nauvoo were brought in against Smith and dismissed in Nauvoo courts on a writ of habeas corpus. Smith declared martial law on June 18 and called out the Nauvoo Legion, an organized city militia of about 5,000 men, to protect Nauvoo from outside violence. In response to the crisis, Illinois Governor Thomas Ford traveled to Hancock County, on June 21, he arrived at the county seat in Carthage. On June 22, Ford wrote to the Mayor and City Council of Nauvoo, proposing a trial by a non-Mormon jury in Carthage, the county seat, guaranteed Smith's safety. Smith fled the jurisdiction to avoid arrest.
On June 23, a posse under the command of Ford entered Nauvoo to execute an arrest warrant, but they we
B. H. Roberts
Brigham Henry Roberts was a Mormon leader and politician. He published a popular six-volume history of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and wrote Studies of the Book of Mormon—published posthumously—which discussed the validity of the Book of Mormon as an ancient record. Roberts was denied a seat as a member of United States Congress because of his practice of polygamy. Roberts was born in Warrington, England, the son of Benjamin Roberts, an alcoholic blacksmith and ship plater, Ann Everington, a seamstress. In the year of his birth both parents converted to the LDS Church. Benjamin Roberts abandoned his family. Roberts wrote, "My childhood was a nightmare. In Nebraska they joined a wagon train and proceeded to walk—for much of the way barefoot—to Salt Lake City, where they were met by their mother, who had preceded them. In 1867, Roberts was baptized into the LDS Church by Seth Dustin, who two years became his stepfather. Dustin deserted his family, "after several reappearances, he disappeared completely."
Ann Dustin was granted a divorce in 1884. Upon coming to Utah Territory, Roberts settled in Bountiful, which he always from on considered his home. Roberts participated in the gambling and drinking typical of that time and place, but Roberts learned to read and, after a series of menial jobs, was apprenticed to a blacksmith while attending school. He became a "voracious reader, devouring books of history, philosophy," the Book of Mormon and other Mormon religious texts. In 1878, Roberts married Sarah Louisa Smith, in the same year he graduated first in his class from University of Deseret, the normal school precursor of the University of Utah, he and Sarah had seven children. After graduation Roberts was ordained a seventy in his local church branch and taught school to support his family; the LDS Church sent him on a mission to Iowa and Nebraska, "but because the cold weather was hard on his health, he was transferred to Tennessee in December of 1880." There he rose to prominence as the president of the Tennessee Conference of the Southern States Mission.
On August 10, 1884, a mob in the small community of Cane Creek murdered two Mormon missionaries and two members of the Mormon congregation. At some personal risk, Roberts disguised himself as a tramp and recovered the bodies of the two missionaries for their families in Utah Territory. During a brief return to Utah, Roberts took a second wife, Celia Dibble, by whom he had eight children. From 1889 to 1894, Celia was exiled in Manassa, Colorado, to protect her husband from prosecution for unlawful cohabitation. In December 1886, while serving as associate editor of the Salt Lake Herald, Roberts was arrested on the charge of unlawful cohabitation, he that night left on a mission to England. In England, Roberts served as assistant editor of the LDS Church publication the Millennial Star and completed his first book, the much reprinted The Gospel: An Exposition of Its First Principles. Returning to Salt Lake City in 1888, as full-time editor of The Contributor, he was chosen as one of the seven presidents of the First Council of the Seventy, the third-highest governing body in the LDS Church.
"Tiring of evading federal authorities," Roberts surrendered in April 1889 and pleaded guilty to the charge of unlawful cohabitation. He was imprisoned in the Utah Territorial Prison for five months. Following his release, he moved his families to Colorado and married a third wife, Dr. Margaret Curtis Shipp, either shortly before or shortly after Wilford Woodruff, president of the LDS Church, issued the 1890 Manifesto that prohibited solemnization of new plural marriages. Roberts was pardoned in 1894 by U. S. President Grover Cleveland, he resigned as an editor of the Salt Lake Herald in 1896, giving his reason that the position that the paper had taken on the recent "Manifesto" was apt to place him in a false light. During the transitional period following 1890, the LDS Church disbanded its People's Party, "and the Saints were encouraged to align themselves with the national parties." Roberts became a fervent Democrat and was elected Davis County Delegate to the Utah State Constitutional Convention in 1894.
Roberts proved a vocal member of the Convention in his opposition to women's suffrage. In 1895, Roberts was the losing Democratic candidate for the U. S. House of Representatives, Roberts believed LDS Church leaders, who were predominantly Republicans, "had unfairly influenced the election by publicly reprimanding him and fellow Democrat Moses Thatcher for running for office without express permission of the Church." The LDS Church issued the "Political Manifesto of 1895," which forbade church officers from running for public office without the approval of the Church. Both Roberts and Thatcher refused to agree to the Political Manifesto and were suspended from their ecclesiastical offices. Roberts, believing such a requirement was a basic infringement of his civil rights, capitulated just hours before
The Deseret News is a newspaper published in Salt Lake City, United States. It is Utah's oldest continuously published daily newspaper and has the largest Sunday circulation in the state and the second largest daily circulation behind The Salt Lake Tribune; the News is owned by Deseret News Publishing Company, a subsidiary of Deseret Management Corporation, a holding company owned by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. The paper's name is derived from the word for "honeybee" in the Book of Mormon; the newspaper is printed by the Newspaper Agency Corporation, which it co-owns with The Salt Lake Tribune under a joint operating agreement. In 2006, combined circulation of the two papers was 151,422; the Deseret News publishes a weekly compact-sized insert, the Church News, the Mormon Times insert, both of which are included in the newspaper. The Church News includes news of the LDS Church and has been published since 1931, while the Mormon Times is about "the people and culture associated with the church".
Since 1974 the Deseret News has published the Church Almanac, an annual edition carrying LDS Church facts and statistics edited by Church News staff. The editorial tone of the Deseret News is described as moderate to conservative, is assumed to reflect the values of its owner, the LDS Church. For example, the newspaper does not accept advertising. On March 31, 1847, while at Winter Quarters, the LDS Church's Quorum of the Twelve Apostles authorized William W. Phelps to "go east and procure a printing press" to be taken to the future Mormon settlement in the Great Basin. Phelps left Winter Quarters sometime in May, went to Boston by way of the former Mormon settlement of Nauvoo, Illinois. In Boston, with the help of William I. Appleby, the president of the Church's Eastern States Mission, Church member Alexander Badlam, Phelps was able to procure a wrought iron Ramage hand-press and other required equipment, he returned to Winter Quarters on November 1847, with the press. Due to its size and weight, the press and equipment would not be taken to Salt Lake City until 1849.
By that time many of the Mormon pioneers had left Winter Quarters and the press was moved across the Missouri River to another temporary Mormon settlement, Iowa. In April 1849 the press and other church property was loaded onto ox drawn wagons, traveled with the Howard Egan Company along the Mormon Trail; the wagon company, with the press, arrived in the Salt Lake Valley August 7, 1849. The press was moved into a small adobe building that served as a coin mint for the settlers; the press was at first used to print the necessary documents used in setting up the provisional State of Deseret. The first issue of the Deseret News was published June 15, 1850, was 8 pages long; this first issue included the paper's prospectus, written by the editor Willard Richards, along with news from the United States Congress, a report on the San Francisco 1849 Christmas Eve fire. Because it was meant to be the voice of the State of Deseret, it was called the Deseret News, its motto was "Truth and Liberty." It was at first a weekly Saturday publication, published in "pamphlet form" in hopes that readers would have the papers bound into volumes.
Subscription rate was $2.50 for six months. A jobs press called the Deseret News Press, was set up so the News could print books, handbills, etc. for paying customers and other publishers. From the beginning paper shortages were a problem for the News staff. Starting with the October 19, 1850 issue—only four months after publication began—the paper had to be changed to a bi-weekly publication. So, many times in the 1850s there were several periods when the News could not be published for lack of paper. Thomas Howard, a Mormon immigrant from England, a paper-maker, approached Brigham Young about using some machinery—originally meant for producing sugar—to make their own paper; the publishers asked everyone to donate old cloth to the venture. In the summer of 1854 the first issues of the News were published on "homemade paper", thick, grayish in color.<Even with paper shortages a News extra would be published, if there were important news or a sermon that could not wait for the regular publication date.
During a turbulent time period known as the Utah War, the News presses and equipment were moved to the central and southern parts of the state. As armed forces of the United States camped just outside the state at Fort Bridger, George Q. Cannon was assigned to take some presses and equipment to Fillmore while Henry McEwan was to take the remainder to Parowan. On May 5, 1858 the first issue of the News with Fillmore City as the publication place appeared; that fall the presses were brought back to Salt Lake City and placed in the Council House, allowing the News to begin normal operations. The soldiers who had marched to Utah during the war would remain at the newly constructed Camp Floyd, their need for a newspaper, one not published by the LDS Church, was satisfied with Kirk Anderson's Valley Tan, the area's second newspaper. During the 1850s through 1860s, numer
Joseph Smith and the criminal justice system
Joseph Smith, the founder of the Latter Day Saint movement, was "subjected to thirty criminal actions" during his life. Another source reports. Smith was killed by a mob while in jail awaiting trial on charges of treason against Illinois. While in New York, Smith faced charges of being a "disorderly person" in 1826 and 1830. In Ohio, he was arrested multiple times on a variety of charges. On January 12, 1838, a warrant was issued for Smith's arrest on a charge of banking fraud. Rather than submit to arrest, Smith fled the jurisdiction. In Missouri, he was accused of threatening a public official. After his loss in the 1838 Mormon War, Smith was charged with treason against Missouri. Smith was fled the jurisdiction, escaping into Illinois. In Illinois, Smith faced arrests in connection to his Missouri charges, including a indictment on the charge of conspiring to assassinate the former Governor of Missouri. In 1844, he was charged with inciting a riot in the destruction of the Nauvoo Expositor. Smith declared martial law and called out the Nauvoo Legion to enforce it—leading to charges of treason against Illinois.
While in jail awaiting trial, Smith was killed by a mob. The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints considers Smith to be a persecuted prophet. An LDS Church website states: Few have confronted more antagonism and trials than did Joseph Smith, he was besieged with dozens of unjustified lawsuits and was in jeopardy of his life. He was poisoned, tarred, unjustly imprisoned, once sentenced to die by firing squad, he and Emma had a home of their own, six of their children died in infancy. Financial difficulties continually plagued the family; as for the perils which I am called to pass through," Joseph reflected, "they seem but a small thing to me, as the envy and wrath of man have been my common lot all the days of my life. It all has become a second nature to me. Mormons liken the treatment of Smith to the persecution of other biblical figures who faced religious persecution. Smith is considered a martyr by the LDS Church due to his 1844 death at the hands of mob while awaiting trial. Smith was born in Vermont in 1805, his family moved to New York in 1817.
At age 20, Smith—described in court records as "Joseph the glasslooker"—faced his first criminal charge, a misdemeanor count of being a "disorderly person". In 1830, he faced the same charge. Smith left New York for Ohio. On March 20, 1826, Smith was arrested by Constable Philip De Zeng and brought to court in Bainbridge, New York, on the complaint of Josiah Stowell's nephew, who accused Smith of being "a disorderly person and an imposter." An anonymous writer claimed to have been given access to an account of court proceedings, published in Fraser's Magazine during 1873. In it, Smith described his divination methods, he had a certain stone which he had looked at to determine where hidden treasures in the bowels of the earth were. That at Palmyra he pretended to tell by looking at this stone where coined money was buried in Pennsylvania, while at Palmyra had ascertained in that way where lost property was of various kinds, and therefore the Court find the Defendant guilty. Costs: Warrant, 19c. Complaint upon oath, 25 1/2c.
Seven witnesses, 87 1/2c. Recognisances, 25c. Mittimus, 19c. Recognisances of witnesses, 75c. Subpoena, 18c. - $2.68. This account has been corroborated by discoveries, such as Justice Neely's bill of costs which refers to Joseph Smith as "The Glass Looker,", discovered in 1971 by Wesley P. Walters; the total costs matched the amount in Fraser's Magazine. However, other contradictory accounts of the trial have been published which brings the authenticity of the accounts into question. In 1838, Joseph Smith stated that he had, in fact, worked for Josiah Stowell but Smith avoided mentioning the court hearing and downplayed his role by claiming to be a mere bystander. Smith said that Stowell had heard of a lost Spanish silver mine near Harmony and wanted to find it. According to Smith, Stowell "took me, with the rest of his hands, to dig for the silver mine, at which I continued to work for nearly a month, without success in our undertaking, I prevailed with the old gentleman to cease digging after it.
Hence arose the prevalent story of my having been a money-digger." Constable Ebenezer Hatch arrested Smith on June 30, 1830, held him over night, brought him before Justice Joseph P. Chamberlin on a charge of being a disorderly person. Smith was transported to New York, his two-day trial took place in late June, ending on July 1, 1830, he was defended by two attorneys hired by Joseph Knight. Smith was acquitted. After his release, however, he was arrested again and transported back to Colesville for a second trial. In Ohio, Smith faced numerous charges, including charges of illegal banking fraud. In 1838, he fled