190 years ago today - May 15, 1830

[Rochester Gem]

Some months ago a noise was made among the credulous of the earth, respecting a wonderful production [about the coming forth of the Book of Mormon].... The author, who has the "copy-right secured according to law," says, `that he was commanded of the Lord in a dream,' to go and find, and that he went and found. At one time it was said that he was commanded of the Lord not to show the plates, on pain of instant death--but it seems he has shown them to the said witnesses, and yet is alive! At another time it is said that none could see them but he who was commanded;--that though they should lie in the middle of the street beneath the broad glare of a meridian sun, in the presence of hundreds, yet no eye but his could see them! ...

This story brings to our mind one of similar nature ... it was in the year 1815, that a family of Smiths moved into these parts ... They had a wonderful son, of about 18 years of age, who, on a certain day, as they said, while in the road, discovered a round stone of the size of a man's fist, the which when he first saw it, presented to him on the one side, all the dazzling splendor of the sun in full blaze--and on the other, the clearness of the moon. He fell down insensible at the sight, and while in the trance produced by the sudden and awful discovery, it was communicated to him that he was to become an oracle--and the keys of mystery were put into his hands, and he saw the unsealing of the book of fate. He told his tale for money. Numbers flocked to him to test his skill, and the first question among a certain class was, if there was any of [Captain Robert] Kidd's money hid in these parts in the earth. The oracle, after adjusting the stone in his hat, and looking in upon it sometime, pronounced that there was. The question of where, being decided upon, there forthwith emerged a set, armed with "pick-axe, hoe and spade," out into the mountains, to dislodge the treasure. ... [They] sallied out upon the hills east of the river, and commenced digging--the night was chosen for operation--already had two nights been spent in digging, and the third commenced upon, when Northrop with his pick-axe struck the chest! The effect was powerful, and contrary to an explicit rule laid down by himself he exclaimed, "d--n me, I've found it!"

The charm was broken!--the scream of demons,--the chattering of spirits--and hissing of serpents rent the air, and the treasure moved! The oracle was again consulted, who said that it had removed to the Deep Hollow. There, a similar accident happened--and again it was removed to a hill near the village of Penfield, where, it was pretended the undertakers obtained the treasure.

... He predicted that the enemy [War of 1812] would make an attack; and that blood must flow.--The story flew, and seemed to carry with it a desolating influence--some moved away into other parts, and others were trembling under a full belief of the prediction. At this time a justice of the peace of the place visited the oracle, and warned him to leave the country. He gravely told the magistrate that any one who opposed him would receive judgements upon his head, and that he who should take away the inspired stone from him, would suffer immediate death!...

["Imposition and Blasphemy!!--Money Diggers, &c.," Rochester (NY) Gem 2 (15 May 1830): 15., as cited in Dan Vogel, Early Mormon Documents: Rochester (Ny) Gem]

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