Mormon History

Dull Joe Following Rigdon to Ohio - 1831


February 1, 1831

OUR CLOSET. -- Our patrons will perceive that we are slowly, but surely progressing with our labors, and it is with heartfelt gratitude that we witness a regular and steady increase of our subscription list...

The all important subjects of public morals & education, shall receive their due share of attention, & nothing shall willingly escape our pen, which shall bring a blush to the cheek of beauteous innocence, or shock the ear of delicacy.

Our first plan respecting the imposture of the "Book of Mormon," we have been induced to alter and instead of attempting, as was first proposed, to keep up something like a regular narrative, on the suggestion of many of our readers in this section of country, we conclude to publish former and recent events promiscuously, paying due attention to time and place.



Jo Smith, junior, according to the best information we can obtain on this subject, was born in the State of Vermont. His father emigrated to the country (Ontario County, N. Y.) about the year 1815, and located his family in the village of Palmyra. The age of this modern prophet is supposed to be about 24 years. In his person he is tall and slender -- thin favored -- having but little expression of countenance, other than that than that of dulness; his mental powers appear to be extremely limited, and from the small opportunity he has had at school, he made little or no proficiency, and it is asserted by one of his principle followers, (who also pretends to divine illuminations,) that Jo, even at this day is profoundly ignorant of the meaning of many of the words contained in the Book of Mormon.

Joseph Smith, senior, the father of the personage of whom we are now writing, had by misfortune or otherwise been reduced to extreme poverty before he migrated to Western New-York. His family was large, consisting of nine or ten children, among whom Jo junior was the third or fourth in succession. We have never been able to learn that any of the family were ever noted for much else than ignorance and stupidity, to which might be added, so far as it may respect the elder branch, a propensity to superstition and a fondness for everything marvelous.

We have been credibly informed that the mother of the prophet had connected herself with several religious societies before her present illumination; this also was the case with other branches of the family, but how far the father of the prophet ever advanced in these particulars we are not precisely informed; it however appears quite certain that the prophet himself never made any serious pretentions to religion until his late pretended revelation.

We are not able to determine whether the elder Smith was ever concerned in money digging transactions previous to his emigration from Vermont, or not, but it is a well authenticated fact that soon after his arrival here, he evinced a firm belief in the existence of hidden treasures, and that this section of country abounded in them. -- He also revived, or in other words, propagated the vulgar, yet popular belief that these treasures were held in charge by some evil spirit, which was supposed to be either the DEVIL himself, or some one of his most trusty favorites. This opinion however, did not originate by any means with Smith, for we find that the vulgar and ignorant from time immemorial, both in Europe and America, have entertained the same preposterous opinion.

It may not be amiss in this place to mention that the mania of money digging soon began rapidly to diffuse itself through many parts of this country; men and women without distinction of age or sex became marvellous wise in the occult sciences, many dreamed, and others saw visions disclosing to them, deep in the bowels of the earth, rich and shining treasures, and to facilitate those mighty mining operations, (money was usually if not always sought after in the night time,) divers devices and implements were invented, and although the spirit was always able to retain his precious charge, these discomfited as well as deluded beings, would on a succeeding night return to their toil, not in the least doubting that success would eventually attend their labors.

Mineral rods and balls, (as they were called by the imposter who made use of them,) were supposed to be infallible guides to these sources of wealth -- "peep stones" or pebbles, taken promiscuously from the brook or field, were placed in a hat or other situation excluded from the light, when some wizzard or witch (for these performances were not confined to either sex) applied their eyes, and nearly starting their balls from their sockets, declared they saw all the wonders of nature, including of course, ample stores of silver and gold.

It is more than probable that some of these deluded people, by having their imaginations heated to the highest pitch of excitement, and by straining their eyes until they were suffused with tears, might have, through the medium of some trifling emission of the ray of light, receive imperfect images on the retina, when their fancies could create the rest. Be this however as it may, people busied themselves in consulting these blind oracles, while the ground was nightly opened in various places and men who were too lazy or idle to labor for bread in the day time, displayed a zeal and perseverance in this business worthy of a better cause. 

We have received a long letter from a gentleman of respectability from Painesville, Ohio, respecting the conduct of the "Mormonites" in that state. We shall publish a synopsis of it in our next...

We have an article in type, copied from the Painesville Telegraph, which from want of room has been excluded from this day's paper detailing some account of the Mormonites in the state of Ohio, it will appear in our next.


Waterloo, Jan. 26, 183[1].   

Mr. EDITOR: --
Elder S. Rigdon left this village on Monday morning last in the stage, for the "Holy Land," where all the "Gold Bible" converts, have recently received a written commandment from God, through Jo Smith, junior, to repair with all convenient speed after selling off the[ir] property. This command was at first resisted by such as had property, (the brethren from the neighboring counties being all assembled by special summons,) but after a night of fasting, prayer and trial, they all consented to obey the holy messenger. -- Rigdon has for some time past been arranging matters with Smith for the final departure of the faithful for the "far west." The man of many CREEDS, (Rigdon) appears to possess colloquial powers to a considerable degree, and before leaving this vicinity left us his blessing. He delivered a discourse at the Court House immediately preceding his departure, wherein he depicted in strong language, the want of "charity and brotherly love" among the prevailing sects and denominations of professing christians, and sorry I am to admit, that he had too much truth on his side with regard to this particular. After denouncing dreadful vengeance on the whole state of New-York, and this village in particular, and recommending to all such as wished to flee from "the wrath to come," to follow him beyond the "western waters," he took his leave. The Prophet, Spouse, and whole "holy family" (as they style themselves,) will follow Rigdon, so soon as their deluded or hypothetical followers, shall be able to dispose of what little real property they possess in this region: one farm (Whitmers) was sold a few days ago for $2,300. Their first place of destination is understood to be a few miles west of Painesville, Ohio, (the present place of the Elder's residence) which is just within the east bounds of this new land of promise, which extends from thence to the Pacific Ocean, embracing a territory of 1500 miles in extent, from north to south.

Yours respectfully,