26029

Appendix 1: Agreement of Josiah Stowell and Others, 1 November 1825

ARTICLES OF AGREEMENT.
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

Area first settled by Swedish immigrants, 1628. William Penn received grant for territory from King Charles II, 1681, and established British settlement, 1682. Philadelphia was center of government for original thirteen U.S. colonies from time of Revolutionary...

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near a Wm. Hale’s,1

William Hale, a “distant relative” of JS’s future father-in-law, Isaac Hale, owned property near Harmony, Pennsylvania. (Von Wymetal, Joseph Smith the Prophet, 78.)  


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,2

According to later recollections from Isaac Hale’s nephews, digging had begun several years earlier when William Hale was “informed by a woman by the name of Odle, who claimed to possess the power of seeing under ground . . . that there were great treasures concealed in the hill northeast from Isaac Hale’s house.” However, “after a short time operations were suspended.” The dig was recommenced in summer 1825. (Von Wymetal, Joseph Smith the Prophet, 78.)  


we do agree to have it divided in the following manner, viz.: Josiah Stowell

22 Mar. 1770–12 May 1844. Farmer, sawmill owner. Born in Winchester, Cheshire Co., New Hampshire. Son of Israel Stowell and Mary Butler. Member of Presbyterian church. Moved to Jericho (later Bainbridge), Chenango Co., New York, 1791. Married Miriam Bridgeman...

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, Calvin Stowell

5 Dec. 1774–8 Nov. 1838. Physician. Born in Winchester, Cheshire Co., New Hampshire. Son of Israel Stowell and Mary Butler. Married first Polly Stowell, by 1796. Moved to Jericho (later Bainbridge), Tioga Co., New York, by Dec. 1796. Married second Lucy Bramhall...

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3

A brother of Josiah Stowell. (Stowell, Stowell Genealogy, 113.)  


and Wm. Hale to take two-thirds, and Charles Newton,4

Possibly one of the two men named Charles Newton living in Bainbridge, Chenango County, New York. (1820 U.S. Census, Bainbridge, Chenango Co., NY, 149; 1830 U.S. Census, Bainbridge, Chenango Co., NY, 7; 1840 U.S. Census, Bainbridge, Chenango Co., NY, 419, 425.)  


Wm. I. Wiley,5

Possibly the William Wylie residing in Rush, Susquehanna County, Pennsylvania. (Susquehanna Co., PA, Deeds, 1812–1922, Grantee Index, vol. 10, p. 514, microfilm 1,927,838; Susquehanna Co., PA, Deeds, 1812–1922, Grantor Index, vol. 11, p. 355, microfilm 1,927,836, U.S. and Canada Records Collection, FHL; 1840 U.S. Census, Rush, Susquehanna Co., PA; Polly Catlin, Great Bend, PA, to “Francis,” Pittsburgh, PA, 18 Mar. 1836, in Roehm, Letters of George Catlin and His Family, 88.)  


and the Widow Harper6

Likely Tryphena (Phena) Stone Harper, who lived in Windsor, Broome County, New York. Her husband, Oliver Harper, died on 11 May 1824. (1820 U.S. Census, Windsor, Broome Co., NY, 239; Simon, “Notes on Oliver Harper”; Blackman, History of Susquehanna County, Pennsylvania, 582.)  


to take the other third. And we further agree that Joseph Smith, Sen.

12 July 1771–14 Sept. 1840. Cooper, farmer, teacher, merchant. Born at Topsfield, Essex Co., Massachusetts. Son of Asael Smith and Mary Duty. Nominal member of Congregationalist church at Topsfield. Married to Lucy Mack by Seth Austin, 24 Jan. 1796, at Tunbridge...

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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,7

Possibly the John M. Shephard of Broome County. (See Broome Co., NY, Deed Records, 1812–1922, p. 54–55, Grantor Index, microfilm 1,927,835, U.S. and Canada Record Collection, FHL; see also 1850 U.S. Census, Harmony Township, Susquehanna Co., PA.)  


Elihu Stowell8

Elihu Cooper Stowell was the son of Abishai Stowell, half-brother to Josiah Stowell. (Stowell, Stowell Genealogy, 113, 235.)  


and John Grant9

Possibly John Grant of Smithville, Chenango County, New York, or John Grant of Colesville, Broome County, New York. (1820 U.S. Census, Smithville, Chenango Co., NY, 210; 1830 U.S. Census, Colesville Township, Broome Co., NY, 52.)  


) 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 of each third and that after the mine is opened the expense shall be equally borne by each of the sharers.
Township of Harmony

Located in northeastern Pennsylvania. Area settled, by 1787. Organized 1809. Population in 1830 about 340. Population in 1840 about 520. Contained Harmony village (no longer in existence). Josiah Stowell hired JS to help look for treasure in area, Oct. 1825...

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, Pa., Nov. 1, 1825.
In presence of
Isaac Hale

21 Mar. 1763–11 Jan. 1839. Farmer, hunter, innkeeper. Born in Waterbury, New Haven Co., Connecticut. Son of Reuben Hale and Diantha Ward. Member of Methodist church. Moved to Wells, Albany Co., New York (later in Rutland Co., Vermont), ca. 1771, to live with...

View Full Bio
,10

Hale said that “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.” (Isaac Hale, Affidavit, Harmony, PA, 20 Mar. 1834, in “Mormonism,” Susquehanna Register, and Northern Pennsylvanian [Montrose, PA], 1 May 1834, [1].)  


(Chas. A. Newton,
David Hale,11

David Hale, a son of Isaac Hale, lived in Harmony. (1830 U.S. Census, Harmony Township, Susquehanna Co., PA, 2.)  


(Jos. Smith, Sen.

12 July 1771–14 Sept. 1840. Cooper, farmer, teacher, merchant. Born at Topsfield, Essex Co., Massachusetts. Son of Asael Smith and Mary Duty. Nominal member of Congregationalist church at Topsfield. Married to Lucy Mack by Seth Austin, 24 Jan. 1796, at Tunbridge...

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,
P. Newton.12

Possibly Phineas Newton living in Plymouth Township, Chenango County, New York, or Peter Newton living in Chenango Township, Broome County, New York. (1830 U.S. Census, Plymouth Township, Chenango Co., NY, 151; 1820 U.S. Census, Chenango Township, Broome Co., NY, 243.)  


(Isaiah Josiah Stowell

22 Mar. 1770–12 May 1844. Farmer, sawmill owner. Born in Winchester, Cheshire Co., New Hampshire. Son of Israel Stowell and Mary Butler. Member of Presbyterian church. Moved to Jericho (later Bainbridge), Chenango Co., New York, 1791. Married Miriam Bridgeman...

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,
(Calvin Stowell

5 Dec. 1774–8 Nov. 1838. Physician. Born in Winchester, Cheshire Co., New Hampshire. Son of Israel Stowell and Mary Butler. Married first Polly Stowell, by 1796. Moved to Jericho (later Bainbridge), Tioga Co., New York, by Dec. 1796. Married second Lucy Bramhall...

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,
(Jos. Smith, Jr.,
(Wm. I. Wiley.
[p. [4]]
ARTICLES OF AGREEMENT.
We, the undersigned, do firmly agree,  & by these presents bind ourselves, to ful fill and abide by the hereafter specified  articles:
First—That if anything of value should be  obtained at a certain place in Pennsyl vania

Area first settled by Swedish immigrants, 1628. William Penn received grant for territory from King Charles II, 1681, and established British settlement, 1682. Philadelphia was center of government for original thirteen U.S. colonies from time of Revolutionary...

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near a Wm. Hale’s,1

William Hale, a “distant relative” of JS’s future father-in-law, Isaac Hale, owned property near Harmony, Pennsylvania. (Von Wymetal, Joseph Smith the Prophet, 78.)  


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,2

According to later recollections from Isaac Hale’s nephews, digging had begun several years earlier when William Hale was “informed by a woman by the name of Odle, who claimed to possess the power of seeing under ground . . . that there were great treasures concealed in the hill northeast from Isaac Hale’s house.” However, “after a short time operations were suspended.” The dig was recommenced in summer 1825. (Von Wymetal, Joseph Smith the Prophet, 78.)  


we do agree to have it divided in  the following manner, viz.: Josiah Sto well

22 Mar. 1770–12 May 1844. Farmer, sawmill owner. Born in Winchester, Cheshire Co., New Hampshire. Son of Israel Stowell and Mary Butler. Member of Presbyterian church. Moved to Jericho (later Bainbridge), Chenango Co., New York, 1791. Married Miriam Bridgeman...

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, Calvin Stowell

5 Dec. 1774–8 Nov. 1838. Physician. Born in Winchester, Cheshire Co., New Hampshire. Son of Israel Stowell and Mary Butler. Married first Polly Stowell, by 1796. Moved to Jericho (later Bainbridge), Tioga Co., New York, by Dec. 1796. Married second Lucy Bramhall...

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3

A brother of Josiah Stowell. (Stowell, Stowell Genealogy, 113.)  


and Wm. Hale to  take two-thirds, and Charles Newton,4

Possibly one of the two men named Charles Newton living in Bainbridge, Chenango County, New York. (1820 U.S. Census, Bainbridge, Chenango Co., NY, 149; 1830 U.S. Census, Bainbridge, Chenango Co., NY, 7; 1840 U.S. Census, Bainbridge, Chenango Co., NY, 419, 425.)  


 Wm. I. Wiley,5

Possibly the William Wylie residing in Rush, Susquehanna County, Pennsylvania. (Susquehanna Co., PA, Deeds, 1812–1922, Grantee Index, vol. 10, p. 514, microfilm 1,927,838; Susquehanna Co., PA, Deeds, 1812–1922, Grantor Index, vol. 11, p. 355, microfilm 1,927,836, U.S. and Canada Records Collection, FHL; 1840 U.S. Census, Rush, Susquehanna Co., PA; Polly Catlin, Great Bend, PA, to “Francis,” Pittsburgh, PA, 18 Mar. 1836, in Roehm, Letters of George Catlin and His Family, 88.)  


and the Widow Harper6

Likely Tryphena (Phena) Stone Harper, who lived in Windsor, Broome County, New York. Her husband, Oliver Harper, died on 11 May 1824. (1820 U.S. Census, Windsor, Broome Co., NY, 239; Simon, “Notes on Oliver Harper”; Blackman, History of Susquehanna County, Pennsylvania, 582.)  


to  take the other third. And we further  agree that Joseph Smith, Sen.

12 July 1771–14 Sept. 1840. Cooper, farmer, teacher, merchant. Born at Topsfield, Essex Co., Massachusetts. Son of Asael Smith and Mary Duty. Nominal member of Congregationalist church at Topsfield. Married to Lucy Mack by Seth Austin, 24 Jan. 1796, at Tunbridge...

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and Joseph  Smith Jr. shall be considered as having  two shares, two elevenths of all the prop erty 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,7

Possibly the John M. Shephard of Broome County. (See Broome Co., NY, Deed Records, 1812–1922, p. 54–55, Grantor Index, microfilm 1,927,835, U.S. and Canada Record Collection, FHL; see also 1850 U.S. Census, Harmony Township, Susquehanna Co., PA.)  


Elihu  Stowell8

Elihu Cooper Stowell was the son of Abishai Stowell, half-brother to Josiah Stowell. (Stowell, Stowell Genealogy, 113, 235.)  


and John Grant9

Possibly John Grant of Smithville, Chenango County, New York, or John Grant of Colesville, Broome County, New York. (1820 U.S. Census, Smithville, Chenango Co., NY, 210; 1830 U.S. Census, Colesville Township, Broome Co., NY, 52.)  


) 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 remuner ate 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; other wise 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 of each third  and that after the mine is opened the ex pense shall be equally borne by each of  the sharers.
Township of Harmony

Located in northeastern Pennsylvania. Area settled, by 1787. Organized 1809. Population in 1830 about 340. Population in 1840 about 520. Contained Harmony village (no longer in existence). Josiah Stowell hired JS to help look for treasure in area, Oct. 1825...

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, Pa., Nov. 1, 1825.
In presence of
Isaac Hale

21 Mar. 1763–11 Jan. 1839. Farmer, hunter, innkeeper. Born in Waterbury, New Haven Co., Connecticut. Son of Reuben Hale and Diantha Ward. Member of Methodist church. Moved to Wells, Albany Co., New York (later in Rutland Co., Vermont), ca. 1771, to live with...

View Full Bio
,10

Hale said that “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.” (Isaac Hale, Affidavit, Harmony, PA, 20 Mar. 1834, in “Mormonism,” Susquehanna Register, and Northern Pennsylvanian [Montrose, PA], 1 May 1834, [1].)  


(Chas. A. Newton,
David Hale,11

David Hale, a son of Isaac Hale, lived in Harmony. (1830 U.S. Census, Harmony Township, Susquehanna Co., PA, 2.)  


(Jos. Smith, Sen.

12 July 1771–14 Sept. 1840. Cooper, farmer, teacher, merchant. Born at Topsfield, Essex Co., Massachusetts. Son of Asael Smith and Mary Duty. Nominal member of Congregationalist church at Topsfield. Married to Lucy Mack by Seth Austin, 24 Jan. 1796, at Tunbridge...

View Full Bio
,
P. Newton.12

Possibly Phineas Newton living in Plymouth Township, Chenango County, New York, or Peter Newton living in Chenango Township, Broome County, New York. (1830 U.S. Census, Plymouth Township, Chenango Co., NY, 151; 1820 U.S. Census, Chenango Township, Broome Co., NY, 243.)  


(Isaiah [Josiah] Stowell

22 Mar. 1770–12 May 1844. Farmer, sawmill owner. Born in Winchester, Cheshire Co., New Hampshire. Son of Israel Stowell and Mary Butler. Member of Presbyterian church. Moved to Jericho (later Bainbridge), Chenango Co., New York, 1791. Married Miriam Bridgeman...

View Full Bio
,
(Calvin Stowell

5 Dec. 1774–8 Nov. 1838. Physician. Born in Winchester, Cheshire Co., New Hampshire. Son of Israel Stowell and Mary Butler. Married first Polly Stowell, by 1796. Moved to Jericho (later Bainbridge), Tioga Co., New York, by Dec. 1796. Married second Lucy Bramhall...

View Full Bio
,
(Jos. Smith, Jr.,
(Wm. I. Wiley.
[p. [4]]
This document is an agreement allegedly made between two groups of investors who had hired JS, Joseph Smith Sr.

12 July 1771–14 Sept. 1840. Cooper, farmer, teacher, merchant. Born at Topsfield, Essex Co., Massachusetts. Son of Asael Smith and Mary Duty. Nominal member of Congregationalist church at Topsfield. Married to Lucy Mack by Seth Austin, 24 Jan. 1796, at Tunbridge...

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, and three laborers to find and uncover buried “Gold or Silver . . . [or] coined money and bars or ingots of Gold or Silver.” JS and Joseph Smith Sr., both of whom apparently signed the agreement, were together guaranteed two-elevenths of whatever was found. This document does not appear among this volume’s featured texts because it cannot be authenticated. No manuscript of the contract exists, and it is known only through its publication in Utah’s then avowedly anti-Mormon Salt Lake Daily Tribune, fifty-five years after it was purportedly written and two thousand miles distant. Even copies of the 20 March 1880 issue of the Susquehanna Journal, where it reportedly first appeared in print, cannot be located. Nevertheless, substantial corroborating evidence supports the plausibility of such an agreement, which if authentic provides a glimpse of the folk world in which JS lived, as treasure seeking was widespread throughout New England during JS’s youth.1

See Taylor, “Early Republic’s Supernatural Economy,” 6–34.  


According to the Tribune, B. Wade, a resident of Yellowstone Valley, Montana Territory,2

Likely Bert Wade. (1880 U.S. Census, East Gallatin Valley, Gallatin Co., Montana Territory, 26.)  


forwarded the Susquehanna Journal article to the Tribune in correspondence dated 12 April 1880. On 23 April, the Tribune published “An Interesting Document,” which featured the “Articles of Agreement” along with Wade’s letter and several paragraphs of commentary on the document. The agreement was reportedly drawn up on 1 November 1825 in Harmony Township

Located in northeastern Pennsylvania. Area settled, by 1787. Organized 1809. Population in 1830 about 340. Population in 1840 about 520. Contained Harmony village (no longer in existence). Josiah Stowell hired JS to help look for treasure in area, Oct. 1825...

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, Susquehanna County, Pennsylvania, and was said to be in the possession of a citizen of Thompson Township, Susquehanna County, at the time of its publication in 1880. Wade stated that he had obtained a printed copy from “a slip cut from the Susquehanna, (Pa.) Journal” dated 20 March 1880, which he enclosed in his letter to the editors. The Tribune’s commentary likely drew on the original article from the Susquehanna Journal, but without the original article it is impossible to know what editorial material was written by the Tribune and what was borrowed from the Journal. The Tribune presented Wade as a believing member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints who expected a positive response to the document, and the article speculated that “Brother Wade” may have intended to send his letter to a church-owned newspaper.3

The introductory text in the Salt Lake Daily Tribune, 23 Apr. 1880, [4], reads as follows:

“AN INTERESTING DOCUMENT.

“Articles of Agreement Between Joe Smith, the Father of Mormonism and Other Persons in 1825.

Yellowstone Valley, Mt.,

“April 12, 1880.

eds. tribune: Knowing how interested you are in any matter pertaining to the early history of our Church, I enclose a slip cut from the Susquehanna, (Pa.) Journal of March 20, which will throw some light on the subject. The Journal is published near the scene of our martyred Prophet’s early exploits.

“Respectfully Yours,

“B. Wade.

“The following agreement, the original of which is in the possession of a citizen of Thompson township, was discovered by our correspondent, and forwarded to us as a matter of local interest.

“The existence of the ‘buried treasures’ referred to was ‘revealed’ to Joe Smith jr., who with his father the Prophet, at that time resided on what is now known as the McCune farm, about two miles down the river from this place, and upon the strength of which revelation a stock company was organized to dig for the aforesaid treasure. After the company was organized, a second communication was received by Joseph, jr., from the ‘other world,’ advising the treasure seekers to suspend operations, as it was necessary for one of the company to die before the treasure could be secured.

“Harper the peddler, who was murdered soon after, near the place where the Catholic cemetery in this borough is now located, was one of the original members of the company, and his death was regarded by the remainder of the band as a Providential occurrence, which the ‘powers’ had brought about for their especial benefit. The death of Harper having removed the only obstacle in the way of success, the surviving members re-commenced operations, and signed an ‘agreement,’ giving the widow Harper the half of one third of all the treasures secured. The following is the agreement, written by the old humbug, Joseph Smith, himself.”

The text of the agreement is found at this point, followed by this concluding commentary:

“The place where treasure was supposed to lie buried was on the place now owned by J. M. Tillman, near the McKune farm, then the property of Wm. Hale. Excavations were also made on Jacob Skinner’s farm, some of which remain well marked to-day. It was while pursuing this unsuccessful search for treasures that the Prophet Smith pretended that he unearthed his famous ‘tablets.’

“Brother Wade may have made a mistake in directing his letter to the proper Church journal. If he has, Granny [the LDS church–owned Deseret News] has our permission to copy the above by giving The Tribune proper credit.”

 


The agreement seems to be generally consistent with the historical record. Most of the fifteen persons named in the agreement can be identified. One of the signers, Josiah Stowell

22 Mar. 1770–12 May 1844. Farmer, sawmill owner. Born in Winchester, Cheshire Co., New Hampshire. Son of Israel Stowell and Mary Butler. Member of Presbyterian church. Moved to Jericho (later Bainbridge), Chenango Co., New York, 1791. Married Miriam Bridgeman...

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, hired JS to assist him in the search for buried treasure, and one of the witnesses, Isaac Hale

21 Mar. 1763–11 Jan. 1839. Farmer, hunter, innkeeper. Born in Waterbury, New Haven Co., Connecticut. Son of Reuben Hale and Diantha Ward. Member of Methodist church. Moved to Wells, Albany Co., New York (later in Rutland Co., Vermont), ca. 1771, to live with...

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, provided boarding for JS during that period.4

JS History, vol. A-1, 7–8; Oliver Cowdery, “Letter VIII,” LDS Messenger and Advocate, Oct. 1835, 2:201; see also Blackman, History of Susquehanna County, Pennsylvania, 103; and[JS], Editorial, Elders’ Journal, July 1838, 43.  


JS was in Harmony

Located in northeastern Pennsylvania. Area settled, by 1787. Organized 1809. Population in 1830 about 340. Population in 1840 about 520. Contained Harmony village (no longer in existence). Josiah Stowell hired JS to help look for treasure in area, Oct. 1825...

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, Pennsylvania, in the fall of 1825, and the agreement could have been created during his employment with Stowell. By 1825 JS had a reputation in Manchester

Settled 1793. Formed as Burt Township when divided from Farmington Township, 31 Mar. 1821. Name changed to Manchester, 16 Apr. 1822. Included village of Manchester. Population in 1825 about 2,700. Population in 1830 about 2,800. JS reported first vision of...

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and Palmyra

Known as Swift’s Landing and Tolland before being renamed Palmyra, 1796. Incorporated, Mar. 1827, two years after completion of adjacent Erie Canal. Population in 1820 about 3,700. Joseph Sr. and Lucy Mack Smith family lived in village briefly, beginning ...

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, New York, for his activities as a treasure seer, or someone who used a seer stone to locate gold or other valuable objects buried in the earth.5

Trial proceedings, Bainbridge, NY, 20 Mar. 1826, State of New York v. JS, [J.P. Ct. 1826], in “The Original Prophet,” Fraser’s Magazine, Feb. 1873, 229–230.  


Stowell apparently visited Manchester and hired JS to help him in his search for a Spanish silver mine on the banks of the Susquehanna River in Pennsylvania. Isaac Hale later explained that JS and a group of “money diggers” boarded at his house in November 1825, at which time JS began courting Hale’s daughter Emma

10 July 1804–30 Apr. 1879. Scribe, editor, boardinghouse operator, clothier. Born at Willingborough Township (later in Harmony), Susquehanna Co., Pennsylvania. Daughter of Isaac Hale and Elizabeth Lewis. Member of Methodist church at Harmony (later in Oakland...

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.6

Isaac Hale, Affidavit, Harmony, PA, 20 Mar. 1834, in “Mormonism,” Susquehanna Register, and Northern Pennsylvanian [Montrose, PA], 1 May 1834, [1]; Knight, Reminiscences, 2.  


JS’s employment and the nature of his work during that period are well documented. JS’s history stated, “In the month of October Eighteen hundred and twenty five I hired with an old Gentleman, by name of Josiah Stoal

22 Mar. 1770–12 May 1844. Farmer, sawmill owner. Born in Winchester, Cheshire Co., New Hampshire. Son of Israel Stowell and Mary Butler. Member of Presbyterian church. Moved to Jericho (later Bainbridge), Chenango Co., New York, 1791. Married Miriam Bridgeman...

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who lived in Chenango County

Created in south-central New York state, 1798. Population in 1830 about 37,000. In this county, Josiah Stowell employed JS as farmhand and millworker, 1825–1827. JS married Emma Hale in South Bainbridge, Chenango Co., 1827. JS was charged with and acquitted...

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, State of New York. He had heard something of a silver mine having been opened by the Spaniards in Harmony

Located in northeastern Pennsylvania. Area settled, by 1787. Organized 1809. Population in 1830 about 340. Population in 1840 about 520. Contained Harmony village (no longer in existence). Josiah Stowell hired JS to help look for treasure in area, Oct. 1825...

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, Susquahanah County, State of Pensylvania, and had previous to my hiring with him been digging in order if possible to discover the mine.”7

JS History, vol. A-1, 7–8.  


Lucy Mack Smith

8 July 1775–14 May 1856. Oilcloth painter, nurse, fund-raiser, author. Born at Gilsum, Cheshire Co., New Hampshire. Daughter of Solomon Mack Sr. and Lydia Gates. Moved to Montague, Franklin Co., Massachusetts, 1779; to Tunbridge, Orange Co., Vermont, 1788...

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remembered that Stowell enlisted JS’s assistance “in digging for a silver mine . . . from having heard, that he was in possession of certain means, by which he could discern things that could not be seen by the natural eye.”8

Lucy Mack Smith, History, 1845, 95.  


Oliver Cowdery

3 Oct. 1806–3 Mar. 1850. Clerk, teacher, justice of the peace, lawyer, newspaper editor. Born at Wells, Rutland Co., Vermont. Son of William Cowdery and Rebecca Fuller. Raised Congregationalist. Moved to western New York and clerked at a store, ca. 1825–1828...

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, who met JS in April 1829, later explained that the objective of the search was to find “a cave or subterraneous recess . . . where a company of Spaniards, a long time since, when the country was uninhabited by white settlers, excavated from the bowels of the earth ore, and coined a large quantity of money; after which they secured the cavity and evacuated, leaving a part still in the cave, purposing to return at some distant period.”9

Oliver Cowdery, “Letter VIII,” LDS Messenger and Advocate, Oct. 1835, 2:201.  


Isaac Hale

21 Mar. 1763–11 Jan. 1839. Farmer, hunter, innkeeper. Born in Waterbury, New Haven Co., Connecticut. Son of Reuben Hale and Diantha Ward. Member of Methodist church. Moved to Wells, Albany Co., New York (later in Rutland Co., Vermont), ca. 1771, to live with...

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stated that the workers, including JS, stayed at his house for only a short time before they “became discouraged, and soon after dispersed. This took place about the 17th of November, 1825.”10

Isaac Hale, Affidavit, Harmony, PA, 20 Mar. 1834, in “Mormonism,” Susquehanna Register, and Northern Pennsylvanian [Montrose, PA], 1 May 1834, [1].  


JS continued to work on Stowell’s farm for several months to contribute to the Smith family income; whether he helped Stowell with other treasure searches is not known, but early in 1826 JS reportedly said that he “did not solicit business of this kind.”11

“A Document Discovered,” Utah Christian Advocate, Jan. 1886, 1. In March 1826, Peter G. Bridgman, a nephew of Josiah Stowell, filed a complaint in Bainbridge, New York, charging JS with being “a disorderly person and an Imposter”—charges related to JS’s activities as a treasure seeker and his use of a stone to find buried objects. The supposedly defrauded Josiah Stowell himself, however, testified in JS’s favor at the resulting trial. Though not known or published until decades later, the lengthy account in the Utah Christian Advocate represents itself as being a transcript from the records of Justice Albert Neely, who conducted the proceedings. (Trial proceedings, Bainbridge, NY, 20 Mar. 1826, State of New York v. JS, [J.P. Ct. 1826], in “The Original Prophet,” Fraser’s Magazine, Feb. 1873, 229–230; for detailed treatment of this court case, see volume 1 of the Legal and Business Records series of The Joseph Smith Papers.)  


The Salt Lake Daily Tribune’s commentary incorrectly assessed several aspects of the agreement and was wrong about the timing of JS’s involvement in treasure seeking in Pennsylvania

Area first settled by Swedish immigrants, 1628. William Penn received grant for territory from King Charles II, 1681, and established British settlement, 1682. Philadelphia was center of government for original thirteen U.S. colonies from time of Revolutionary...

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. This may provide evidence that the agreement was a valid 1825 document being misinterpreted in an 1880 context. If the document had been forged by the Tribune or the Susquehanna Journal, it seems likely that the commentary and the document would have corresponded more closely. For instance, the Tribune’s commentary overstates JS’s role by claiming he was a major party in the document, describing it as “Articles of Agreement Between Joe Smith, the Father of Mormonism and Other Persons in 1825.”12

“An Interesting Document,” Salt Lake Daily Tribune, 23 Apr. 1880, [4].  


The agreement, however, required that all the profits be split between two groups, likely the investors. The first group, Josiah Stowell

22 Mar. 1770–12 May 1844. Farmer, sawmill owner. Born in Winchester, Cheshire Co., New Hampshire. Son of Israel Stowell and Mary Butler. Member of Presbyterian church. Moved to Jericho (later Bainbridge), Chenango Co., New York, 1791. Married Miriam Bridgeman...

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, Calvin Stowell

5 Dec. 1774–8 Nov. 1838. Physician. Born in Winchester, Cheshire Co., New Hampshire. Son of Israel Stowell and Mary Butler. Married first Polly Stowell, by 1796. Moved to Jericho (later Bainbridge), Tioga Co., New York, by Dec. 1796. Married second Lucy Bramhall...

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, and William Hale, was to receive two-thirds of the profit, and the second group, Charles Newton, William I. Wiley, and “the Widow Harper,” was to receive the other one-third of the profits. (The commentary in the Tribune misstated the share Harper was to receive.) JS, on the other hand, was supposed to be paid equally by the two groups and would share two-elevenths of the total profits with his father

12 July 1771–14 Sept. 1840. Cooper, farmer, teacher, merchant. Born at Topsfield, Essex Co., Massachusetts. Son of Asael Smith and Mary Duty. Nominal member of Congregationalist church at Topsfield. Married to Lucy Mack by Seth Austin, 24 Jan. 1796, at Tunbridge...

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. Further, the Tribune claimed that the “old humbug, Joseph Smith,” wrote the agreement, a highly unlikely scenario. JS was likely one of the youngest members of the company and had little education. Nothing in the agreement suggests that he wrote it or even appears consistent with him writing it.
The commentary in the Tribune also included implausible claims about a relationship between the death of Oliver Harper, a “peddler” murdered in 1824, and this agreement. Oliver Harper was never mentioned in the agreement, but the commentary assumed, probably correctly, that the “Widow Harper” was his wife, Tryphena (Phena) Stone Harper.13

1830 U.S. Census, Chenango, Broome Co., NY, 21; Simon, “Notes on Oliver Harper.”  


The commentary claimed that JS received two revelations that encouraged the investors to sign the agreement. The first revelation reportedly provided the location of the buried treasure, which led to the initial organization of a “stock company” predating the agreement featured here. JS then allegedly received a second revelation “advising the treasure seekers to suspend operations, as it was necessary for one of the company to die before the treasure could be secured.” The Tribune article provided this explanatory addendum: “[Oliver] Harper the peddler, who was murdered soon after . . . was one of the original members of the company, and his death was regarded by the remainder of the band as a Providential occurrence, which the ‘powers’ had brought about for their especial benefit. The death of Harper having removed the only obstacle in the way of success, the surviving members re-commenced operations, and signed an ‘agreement,’ giving the widow Harper the half of one third of all the treasures secured.”14

“An Interesting Document,” Salt Lake Daily Tribune, 23 Apr. 1880, [4]. In May 1824 Oliver Harper, a raftsman of Windsor, New York, who floated large quantities of timber downriver, was murdered by Jason Treadwell just below Martin Lane’s mill (Lanesboro), Pennsylvania, while returning up the Susquehanna with his profits. (“Trial for Murder,” Adams Centinel [Gettysburg, PA], 22 Sept. 1824, [3]; Blackman, History of Susquehanna County, Pennsylvania, 96–97, 582–583.)  


This account includes a number of apparent anachronisms. There are no known JS revelations until several years later, for example, and those revelations occurred in a religious rather than treasure-seeking context. More significant, court records indicate that Harper died on 11 May 1824,15

See “Trial for Murder,” Adams Centinel [Gettysburg, PA], 22 Sept. 1824, [3]; see also Blackman, History of Susquehanna County, Pennsylvania, 582.  


and, contrary to the claims of the Tribune, there is no credible evidence that JS participated in digging for buried treasure in Pennsylvania

Area first settled by Swedish immigrants, 1628. William Penn received grant for territory from King Charles II, 1681, and established British settlement, 1682. Philadelphia was center of government for original thirteen U.S. colonies from time of Revolutionary...

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before 1825. In contrast, his treasure-seeking activities in New York

Located in northeast region of U.S. Area settled by Dutch traders, 1620s; later governed by Britain, 1664–1776. Admitted to U.S. as state, 1788. Population in 1810 about 1,000,000; in 1820 about 1,400,000; in 1830 about 1,900,000; and in 1840 about 2,400,...

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for that period are well documented. Josiah Stowell

22 Mar. 1770–12 May 1844. Farmer, sawmill owner. Born in Winchester, Cheshire Co., New Hampshire. Son of Israel Stowell and Mary Butler. Member of Presbyterian church. Moved to Jericho (later Bainbridge), Chenango Co., New York, 1791. Married Miriam Bridgeman...

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and Isaac Hale

21 Mar. 1763–11 Jan. 1839. Farmer, hunter, innkeeper. Born in Waterbury, New Haven Co., Connecticut. Son of Reuben Hale and Diantha Ward. Member of Methodist church. Moved to Wells, Albany Co., New York (later in Rutland Co., Vermont), ca. 1771, to live with...

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explained that they first met JS in 1825,16

Josiah Stowell mentioned in a letter that he had not known JS before 1825. Isaac Hale claimed that he first met JS in November 1825. (Josiah Stowell Jr., Elmira, NY, to John S. Fullmer, Cambria Co., PA, 17 Feb. 1843, CHL; Isaac Hale, Affidavit, Harmony, PA, 20 Mar. 1834, in “Mormonism,” Susquehanna Register, and Northern Pennsylvanian [Montrose, PA], 1 May 1834, [1].)  


and in the accounts JS and Lucy Mack Smith

8 July 1775–14 May 1856. Oilcloth painter, nurse, fund-raiser, author. Born at Gilsum, Cheshire Co., New Hampshire. Daughter of Solomon Mack Sr. and Lydia Gates. Moved to Montague, Franklin Co., Massachusetts, 1779; to Tunbridge, Orange Co., Vermont, 1788...

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wrote about that visit, noted earlier, neither mentioned that JS had engaged in any treasure seeking in Pennsylvania before 1825.17

If JS had originally worked for Oliver Harper or others who were a part of the treasure-seeking agreement, this associated information would have likely been included in their accounts. In her history of JS’s early life, Lucy Mack Smith gave no hint of her husband or JS going to Pennsylvania before 1825.  


Nearly fifty years later, Emily C. Blackman’s History of Susquehanna, Pennsylvania, published in 1873, included a statement from Oliver Harper’s laborer, R. C. Doud, who claimed that he heard JS had predicted where treasure could be found in Pennsylvania as early as 1822.18

Doud claimed that on “the old Indian road from Windsor to Chenango Point, about four miles west of Windsor, men were digging, at the same time, for silver, upon Joe’s telling them where it could be found.” (Blackman, History of Susquehanna County, Pennsylvania, 581.)  


Such late accounts, however, too conveniently rely upon each other for support and contradict the statements made much earlier by individuals more closely familiar with JS’s whereabouts before 1825.19

See “W. R. Hine’s Statement,” Naked Truths about Mormonism (Oakland, CA), Jan. 1888, 2; “A Document Discovered,” Utah Christian Advocate, Jan. 1886, 1; Von Wymetal, Joseph Smith the Prophet, 78–79; and William W. Blair, Journal, 8 May 1879, in Vogel, Early Mormon Documents, 4:340–342.  


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