PALMYRA, Wayne Co., N. Y. Aug. 16, 1834.
DEAR SIR,—Your letter of the 5th ult. requesting information concerning the people called Mormonites, and concern-ing their origin and leaders, has been re-ceived.
I begin with the leader 'Joe,' as he is and has been called here for twenty years past. For ten years he has been a man of questionable character, of intemper-ate habits, and a noted money digger. He lived in a sequestered neighborhood, where his loquacity gave him a reputation, with some, for being smart; these he flat-tered to assist him in digging for money. They soon saw his deceptions, and got out of patience with him. To avoid their sneers, Joe pretended that he had found, by digging, a wonderful curiosity, which he kept concealed.
After Joe had told different stories, and had called the pretended curiosity by dif-ferent names, he at length called it The golden plates of the Book of Mormon.
As Smith was from time to time ques-tioned, his story assumed a more uniform statement.
In the mean time Joe visited a visionary fanatic, by the name of Harris, and told him he had received some golden plates from the Lord, with directions to call on Martin Harris for fifty dollars, to enable him to go to Pennsylvania, and there translate the contents of those plates. At the same time he affirmed to Harris, that the Lord had told him that he and Mar-tin Harris were the only honest men in the world. Joe had doubtless heard Mar-tin frequently say this of himself. This he knew was the assailable point in his visionary mind. The delicious bait was greedily swallowed. The fifty dollars were soon put into the hands of Joe, and he cleared for Pennsylvania.
Martin Harris was then worth five or six thousand dollars, and the whole broth-erhood of the Smiths were in very low worldly circumstances.
The Smiths used Martin's money free-ly; some other men, who had a great dis-like to honest labor, about that time join-ed Joe in his acts of deception. In that reinforcement was a ready writer, by name Cowdry, and a Whitney, who de-clared he had once been in heaven, who assisted Joe in writing the Book of Mor-mon, as a pretended translation of the golden plates which Smith affirmed he had been directed by the Spirit of the Lord to dig from the earth. The whole was done in the most secret manner. At the same time, Smith affirmed that it would be im-mediate death for any one to see those plates besides himself and the writers of the Book of Mormon. Poor Martin through his lack of faith, and his having at a certain time, refused to hand over to Joe more money, was excluded from a view of the plates.
Previous to that base course of imposi-tion and deception, Martin Harris was an industrious farmer, but unfortunate in his choice of a wife; or rather she was unfor-tunate in her choice of a husband. It is a truth of public notoriety that Martin Har-ris, who is the second in authority among the Mormonites, who gives to their preach-ers license to preach and authority to put their proselytes under water, has lain vio-lent hands on his wife, and so cruelly and frequently whipped and beaten her, that she had to seek refuge from his abuse and cruelty, among her relatives. To this day he is considered, in this section of the country, in domestic matters, a base scoundrel; in religion, a dupe to the Smiths; in all things, an unlearned, con-ceited hypocrite. He paid for printing five thousand copies of the Book of Mor-mon, which exhausted all his funds. In Ohio he has attempted to get another wife; some one wrote from Ohio and ascertain-ed that his long and greatly abused wife is still alive in the vicinity of Palmyra, and thus defeated him in his iniquity.
All the Mormanites have left this part of our State. I know of no one in this section of country who ever gave them credence. Joe Smith dare not come into this region from a fear of his creditors, from whom he absconded to avoid paying their just demands. He has had a stone, into which, when it is placed in a hat, he pretended to look, and to see chests of money buried in the earth. He is a for-tune teller, and he says he can tell where stolen goods go ; probably too well.
Harris prophesied that this village was to have been destroyed by lightning more than two years ago. Some other things, he in like manner said were then to have happened. As his predictions have all failed, he is now seldom seen in this re-gion. He knows that he is considered a false prophet and an imposter.
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