190 years ago today - Jul 1, 1830

Joseph Smith arrived at Colesville, New York, about 25 June 1830 to baptize members of the Knight family and others on the following Sunday (27 June). However, baptisms were delayed a day when opponents destroyed the dam that had been constructed for this purpose. Moreover, Presbyterian minister John Sherer tried to prevent the baptism of one of his members, Emily Colburn. On 30 June, largely under the instigation of the Presbyterians, Smith was arrested by Constable Ebenezer Hatch for "disorderly conduct." On 1 July, Smith appeared before Justice Chamberlin for a pre-trial examination. Joseph Knight hired James Davidson and John Reed to defend Smith. While Smith claimed he was arrested "on a warrant, on charge of being a disorderly person; of setting the country in an uproar by preaching the Book of Mormon", more accurately, he was retried on the same charge he had narrowly escaped in March 1826. His preaching may have aroused his enemies, but it was not the legal basis for which he was arrested and examined. Joseph Knight remembered that he was arrested for "pertending to see under ground" and that his enemies had found "a little Clause ... in the [New] york Laws against such things." Reed added that his client had been arrested "for the crime of glass looking and juglin fortune telling and so on which the State of New York was against it and made it a crime and the crime was a fine and imprisonment". The warrant was initiated by Abram W. Benton, who wrote that during the 1830 trial "it was shown that the Book of Mormon was brought to light by the same magic power by which he [Smith] pretended to tell fortunes, discover hidden treasures, &c." According to Justice Noble, before whom Smith appeared the following day in Colesville, "Jo. plead in bar Statue of Limitations". Wesley P. Walters noted, "The law limited the time for prosecution of a misdemeanor to three years ..., while four had elapsed. The prosecution may have felt it still had a case since part of that time Joseph had been living in Harmony, Pa., and the law did not reckon the time spent outside the state as a part of the three year limitation". In other words, Benton and the others intended to finish the legal process begun in 1826 but not completed. Smith's defense proved successful. After the examination, which lasted an entire day, Smith was dismissed, then rearrested and taken to Colesville on the same charge. The trial was held on 2 July 1830 before Justice Noble, who also acquitted him. The following bill, submitted by Justice Chamberlin to the County Board of Supervisors for cases he examined or tried between 1 June and 20 October 1830, includes the first of Smith's two July 1830 court appearances.

[Joseph Chamberlin, Bill of Costs, 1830, Clerk of the Board of Supervisors, Chenango County Office Building, Norwich, New York., as cited in Dan Vogel, Early Mormon Documents: Joseph Chamberlin Bill Of Costs]

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