We are not able to determine whether the elder Smith [Joseph Smith Sr.] 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 [crystal?] balls, (as they were called by the impostor 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 [staring?] their [eye] balls from their sockets, declared they saw all the wonders of nature, including of course, ample stores of silver and gold.
[Abner Cole, "Gold Bible, No. 3," Reflector, (Palmyra, NY), 1 February 1831, as quoted in A Topical Guide of Treasure-Seeking Rituals From the American Northeast during the 18th and 19th Centuries, Compiled by Joseph T. Antley (2010)]