140 years ago today - Mar 6, 1881

{William H. and Edmund L. Kelley visited Palmyra and Manchester, New York, and interviewed Thomas H. Taylor, William and Mary Bryant, Danford Booth, Ezra Pierce, Orin Reed, Orlando Saunders, Abel Chase, John H. Gilbert, and Hiram Jackway. They also interviewed John Stafford in Rochester. Notes of these interviews were written in pencil in a small notebook, apparently in the handwriting of William Kelley.}

... Ezra Peirce. Says Joes[eph] [Smith] did not know any thing more about Hyglyerics [hieroglyphics][.] Lyman Cowdry was a Lawyer. O[liver]. Cowd[r]y [was a] School Teacher. Characters good. ["]I know that Joe Smith was ignorant." Has pulled sticks with Joes[eph] for a gallon of Brandy but never knew [him] to get drunk. ... Orlando Saunders. Say 78 year old in April[.] Smiths worked for him and they were good fellows to work[.] Hyram and the old man were coopers[.] very good people. Every bod[y] drank in those days and the Smith[s] drank also. but they never got drunk. They were the best family in the neighborhood in case of sickness. One was at my house nearly all the time when my father died. Martin Haris was [remainder of sentence written sideways on page] one of the first ones of the Town.

Able D. Chase. 67 years old. Old man Smith was a cooper[.] Alvin was the oldest [-] 6 boy[s] 2 girls--&c Alvin[,] Hyr[am]--Josep[h][,] [Samuel] Harrison[,] Wm & Carlos. Every one drank. I was young and dont remember only general character--poorly educated[,] ignorant and selfish--super=sticious Shif[t]less but do a good days work.... Jo[sep]h [Smith] got a [singular] looking stone which was dug up out of my fathers well[.] A sister that [had] a stone she could see in, but it was not the one that Smith had ...

Lorenzo Saunders says [Sidney] Rigdon was in the neighborhood befor[e] B[ook] of M[ormon] was published 18 months[.] Lorenzo Saunders lives in New Adrian[,] Mich. James T. Cob[b] of Salt Lake writes <<Corresponds>> with Colonel Gilbert He knew Lyman and Oliver [Cowdery][.] Lyman was a petifogger[.] Oliver was a school teacher--[Martin] Harris was a very honest farmer but very supersticious--He saw the Book with his spiritual eyes. 79 years of age.

Hyram Jackway 65-6 [year old][.] Saw Joe and his Father Drunk in a hay field[.] Knows nothing about them stealing. Stafford was a Sailor. Wm S=tafford He was the one that furnished the Black Sheep. [-] Smiths translated in the farm hous[e]. Maj Gilbert said they translated in a cave Hyrum and his Father owed Mr. Jaynes 150$ Martin Harris was an honest man[.]...

He [Joseph Smith] was a real clever jovial boy--What [Pomeroy] Tucker said about them was false absolutely--My father was never connected with them in any way--Smiths with others were hunting for money previous to obtaining plates[.] My father Wm S[tafford]. had stone which some thought they could look through--and Old Mrs. S[mith]. came there for it but never go it.--76 years old--... I lived a mile from them. My father is said to have furnished a sheep--but I dont think my father was there at [the] time they say [the] sheep was sacrificed-- Cousin Christopher Stafford [of] Aburn[,] Geauga Co. Ohio, Oliver Cowdry Taught school in house 3 1/2 miles from Palmyry--Cowdry good Character. [Martin] Harris not very religious before B[ook] of M[ormon]--was an Honorable farmer. Dont know whether he was skeptic=al or visionary--old Joe claimed he understood Geology and could tell all kinds of minerals--& they fixed up a dose for him. Joe was quite illit[erate]--until after they began to have school at their house--and they had school at at their house. ... Saw them dig 3 or 4 years before B[ook of Mormon] was found--Joe not there--The neighbors use to Claim Sally Chase Could look through stone she had & find money--Willard Chase use to dig when she found where the money was[.] Peaceable among themselves--<<old woman>> Had a great deal [of] faith [that] their Child[ren]. was going to do something great. ...

[William Kelley, Notebook, No. 5, 1-16, William H. Kelley Papers, RLDS Church Library-Archives, Independence, Missouri., as cited in Dan Vogel, Early Mormon Documents: Kelley Notes]

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