- Historic Sites
The Farm Boy And The Angel
Of sensitive, mystical Joseph Smith, of a heavenly visitor and a buried scripture, and of the founding of a new religion destined to enlist many followers and carve from the desert a new Zion
October 1962 | Volume 13, Issue 6
This article she might well have expected to behold from reading her Bible. A breastplate is coupled with Urim and Thumim in two of the seven books of the Old Testament in which they are named. They seem to have been designated as aids in obtaining understandable guidance from the Lord when He has been formally petitioned. Exodus records the detailed instructions given to Moses by the Lord for the making of Aaron’s “breastplate of judgment,” which was to be “ot gold, of silver, of blue and of purple, and of scarlet, and of fine twined linen,” and was to contain four rows of three stones each arranged as follows: sardius, topa/, and carbuncle; emerald, sapphire, and diamond; ligure, agate, and amethyst; beryl, onyx, and jasper. “And thou shall put in the breastplate of judgment,” said the Lord, “the Urim and the Thummim; and they shall be upon Aaron’s heart when he goeth in before the Lord.” Moses, according to Leviticus, obeyed—“And he put the breastplate upon him: also he put in the breastplate the Urim and the Thummim.”
After Joseph had hidden the magic spectacles in the house he told the miraculous news to all present.
The finding of the golden book did not remain a secret. Lucy Smith told a close friend in strict confidence, and l lie news traveled with amazing speed about the whole community, jealousy rather than incredulity was the immediate reaction. Neighbor Willard Chase, a Methodist “class-leader,” was so overwhelmed with envy that he at once sent for a noted clairvoyant living some sixty miles away. So urgent was the message that the psychic rode all ol a night and a day to arrive in lime for a conference at the Chase home, where he swore, “we will have them plates in spite of Joe Smith or all the devils in hell.” In the meantime Joseph had accepted a job. A man named Warner had brought him a message from the widow Wells in nearby Macedon. She wished Joseph to come and mend her well. Since, as his mother said, “there was not a shilling in the house,” this was a welcome assignment, and her son set out at once.
By the next morning the excitement in the country about Palmyra was so great that the Smith family feared immediate action would be taken to find and sei/c the hidden treasure. Emma volunteered to ride to Macedon to bring back her husband.
Upon the return of the young couple to the Smith house, they found the senior Joseph Smith pacing nervously back and forth, and Joseph said, “Father, there is no danger—all is perfectly safe —there is no cause for alarm.”
He sent his youngest brother, Don Carlos, to tell brother Hyrum to come at once. Hyrum arrived, and Joseph told him to get a chest with a lock and key—and have it ready by the time he returned with the golden plates.
Then he set out to retrieve them from their hiding place.
It was about a three-mile walk to the hollow birch, but fear of its discovery made the journey swift. The plates were still where Joseph had deposited them, and he began the return walk with the shining treasure wrapped in his farmer’s frock. Knowing that he might be attacked if he took the open road, he cut through a heavily wooded section but soon realized that his movements had not gone unnoticed. As he jumped over a large branch that had fallen in a windstorm, someone rose from behind it and hit him with the barrel of a gun. Although hampered by his burden and caught off balance, Joseph turned and struck his assailant to the ground. Sure that the man had confederates nearby, he broke into a desperate run. He had covered about a half mile and was winded and wearied, when another leapt upon him from ambush. Again, Joseph downed his attacker and ran on. He had almost reached the fence that bordered his father’s land when he had to fight off still another vicious conspirator. Terrified and exhausted, he fell over the top rail of the fence and lay still. When he had regained some of his strength, he staggered into the house and told his story. At once his father and the guests, Stowel and Knight, set out to capture the men who had tried to rob him. They came back soon, emptyhanded. At this moment a friend of the family, a Mr. Braman of Livonia, arrived and offered his aid.
Since all were agreed that the countryside had been excited to the point of violence by the story of Joseph’s good fortune, the whole group set to work in frenzied haste to raise the hearthstone in order that the golden book, the breastplate, and the diamond spectacles might be secreted beneath it. They had hardly completed the job when an armed and angry mob apL peared before the house. Here, Joseph adopted a iv stratagem that he had learned from the tales of his mother’s father, Solomon Mack, who had fought in the American Revolution. Opening all the doors of the little house, he began giving orders in a loud voice —as if he had many men to command. Then at his signal all of the besieged, even little Don Carlos, ran out as if to attack. The mob wavered—then fled.
The beehive border is from an early edition of the Book of Mormon; the honeybee is a symbol of fruitful industry.
Realizing that their enemies would soon return in greater force, the Smiths and their friends considered how best to outwit them. They raised the hearthstone once more and took from under it the box which held the treasures. Joseph lifted them out, covered them with cloths, and carried them to a cooper’s shop across the way. Under a pile of flax in the loft he hid his precious burden. Then he nailed the cover back on the box, tore up the floor of the shop, set the empty receptacle below, and replaced the floor boards.