On 9 November 1835, a man visiting Kirtland, Ohio, introduced himself to Joseph Smith as Joshua the Jewish minister. This was an alias of Robert Matthews (1788-1841), a religious eccentric from New York who claimed to be God the Father reincarnated in the body of Matthias the ancient apostle. The two men spoke about religion, and Smith related the story of his first vision, perhaps as a counter to Matthews's claim.
" . . . I commenced giving him a relation of the circum=stances connected with the coming forth of the book of Mormon, as follows--being wrought up in my mind, respecting the subject of religion and looking at [w.o. upon] the different systems taught the children of men, I knew not who was right or who was wrong and I considered [I considered w.o. considering] it of the first importance that I should be right, in matters that involve eternal consequ[e]nces; being thus perplexed in mind I retired to the silent grove and bow[e]d down before the Lord, under a realising sense that he had said (if the bible be true) ask and you shall receive knock and it shall be opened seek and you shall find and again [Matt. 7:7], if any man lack wisdom let him ask of God who giveth to all men libar=ally and upbradeth not [Jas. 1:5]; information was what I most desired at this time, and with a fixed determination to obtain it, I called upon the Lord for the first time, in the place above stated or in other words I made a fruitless attempt to p[r]ay, my toung seemed to be swolen in my mouth, so that I could not utter, I heard a noise behind me like some person walking towards me, I strove again to pray, but could not, the noise of walking seem=ed to draw nearer, I sprung up on my feet, and and looked around, but saw no person or thing that was calculated to produce the noise of wal=king, I kneeled again my mouth was opened and my toung liberated, and I called on the Lord in mighty prayer, a pillar of fire appeared above my head, it presently rested down upon me [w.o. my] head, and filled me with Joy unspeakable, a personage appeared in the midst of this pillar of flame which was spread all around, and yet nothing consumed, another personage soon appeard like unto the first, he said unto me thy sins are forgiven thee, he testifyed unto me that Jesus Christ is the Son of God; <and I saw many angels in this vision> I was about 14 years old when I received this first communication; When I was about 17 years old I saw another vision of angels in the night season after I had retired to bed I had not been a sleep, when but was me=ditating upon my past life and experience, I was verry concious that I had not kept the commandments, and I repented hartily for all my sins and transgression, and humbled myself before Him <whose eyes are over all things>, all at once the room was iluminated above the brightness of the sun an angel appeared before me, his hands and feet were naked pure and white, and he stood between the floors of the room, clothed with in purity inexpressible, he said unto me I am a messenger sent from God, be faithful and keep his commandments in all things, he told me of a sacred record which was written on plates of gold, I saw in the vision the place where they were deposited, he said the Indians were the literal descendants of Abraham he explained many things of the prophesies to [p. 24] me, one I will mention which is this in Malachi 4 chapt[er]. behold the day of the Lord cometh &c. also that the Urim and Thumim, was hid up with the record, and that God would give me power to translate it, with the assistance of this instrument he then gradually vanished out of my sight, or the vision closed, while meditating on what I had seen, the angel appeard to me again and related the same things and much more, also the third time bearing the same tidings, and dep=arted; during the time I was in this vision I did not realize any thing else around me except what was shown me in this communication: after the vision had all passed, I found that it was nearly day-light, the family soon arose, I got up also:--on that day while in the field at work with my Father he asked me if I was sick I relyed, I had but little strenght [strength], he told me to go to the house, I started and went part way and was finally deprived deprived of my stren=gth and fell, but how long I remained I do not know; the Angel came to me again and comm=anded me to go and tell my Father, what I had seen and heard, I did so, he wept and told me that it was a vision from God to attend to it I went and found the place, where the plates were, according to the direction of the Angel, also saw them, and the angel as before; the powers of darkness strove hard against me. I called on God, the Angel told me that the reason why I could not obtain the plates at this time was because I was under transgression, but to come again in one year from that time, I did so, but did not obtain them [rest of line blank] [p. 25] also the third and the fourth year, at which time I obtained them, and translated them into the english language, by the gift and power of God and have been preaching it ever since.
[Joseph Smith, Diary, 9 November 1835, 23-26, Joseph Smith Papers, LDS Church Archives, Salt Lake City, Utah., as cited in Dan Vogel, Early Mormon Documents: Joseph Smith Recital To Robert Matthews]