135 years ago today - May 16, 1887

[Joseph Rogers]

I was often in Palmyra, and was well acquainted with Jo Smith, who became the Mormon prophet. When a young man he claimed to receive revelations from the Lord where treasures were buried. He told Peter Rupert and Mr. Cunningham, a blacksmith (simple-minded old men), that there was a chest of gold buried on my brother-in-law, Henry Murphy's, farm, under a beech tree. Henry's younger brother, Jack, said that must be stopped, and he obtained some filth in a sap bucket and got up in the beech tree before they arrived in the evening. They came and Mr. Rupert held the Bible open and a lighted candle as prophet Jo directed, while Peter dug for the chest of gold. Jack called Peter three times and he looked up and said, "Here am I, Lord," and received the filth in his face. Peter told me and others that the Lord chastised him and he had to stop his digging. He said he paid Jo for the information. I told him he ought not to believe Jo, for he was a liar and imposter. He said Jo would put a spell on him and that he would have to stand two weeks. He said Jo had perfect command over men. He believed he was a prophet. ... Many of Jo's victims were from New Jersey and believed in witches and ghosts. He could not fool the New England or York State Yankees. Jo Smith and his adherents dug a cave in a hill in Manchester, N.Y., and used to go there, he said, to consult with the Lord. He had a door at the entrance fastened with a padlock. The sheriff took possession and found much property which had been stolen from farmers about there. Jo had left for Ohio. It was believed that Jo intended to remove the property.

... His father, old Jo, was called a devil. He was very intemperate, profane and vulgar in conversation. Jo, the prophet, said much about his troubles with the devil and that he, the devil, got the better of him much of the time.

. . . But few persons about Palmyra and Manchester became Mormons. Jo, the prophet, pretended to tell fortunes for pay. He could read the character of men readily and could tell who he could dupe.

[Naked Truths About Mormonism (April 1888): 1., as cited in Dan Vogel, Early Mormon Documents: Joseph Rogers Statement]

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