“We have received the following letter.” Painesville Telegraph (Painesville, Ohio) (22 March 1831).
We have received the following letter from Palmyra, N. Y. on the subject of Bible impostors. It is signed by ten individuals of the first respectibility.
Palmyra, March 12, 1831
The “gold bible” question excites but little interest in this section of country, its followers being few and generally of the dregs of community, and the most unlettered people that can be found any where, and besides there is much reason to doubt the sincerity of many of them.
The first idea of a “Book,” was doubtless suggested to the Smiths by one Walters, a juggling fortune-teller, who made the ignorant believe that an old book in his possession, in the Latin language, comtained an account of the anti-deluvians, &c. and the word was given out that the book Smith was about to find, was a history of hidden treasures.
Smith and his father belonged to a gang of money-diggers, who had followed that business for many years, Jo pretending he could see the gold and silver by the aid of what they called a “peep stone.”
The book is chiefly garbled from the Old and New Testaments, the Apocraphy having contributed its share: names and phrases have been altered, and in many instances copied upwards.—A quarto Bible now in this village, was borrowed and nearly worn out and defaced by their dirty handling. Some seven or eight of them spent many months in copying, Cowdery being principal scribe. Some of these people will probably go to your state, but few of them are able to live without assistance. Their numbers may be 20 in this vicinity, and but two or three of them own any property to our knowledge. Near Waterloo there is said to be about 40, three or four being men of property. Chamberlain and Burrows, two of the principal ones, it is said have refused to sell, or obey Jo any longer. The truth of it is, Jo overdid his business at the commencement and bore on too hard.
The whole gang of these deluded mortals, except a few hypocrites, are profound believers in witchcraft, ghosts, goblins, &c. From the best information we can obtain, the work has entirely stopped in this country, and some [unreadable] been the most ardent are beginning to have misgivings on the subject. Martin Harris the head man here as it respects property, left here a few days ago on a sojourn to your country, having received a special command [unreadable]
Cowdery has been heard of far up the [unreadable] pretending to have great success in his [unreadable] but as ignorant as too many of the people [unreadable] is hardly feasible that so clumsy an imposition can spread to any considerable extent. We [unreadable] only to add that the facts published in the “Reflector” are true as far as has come to our knowledge.
Yours, &c. http://contentdm.lib.byu.edu/cdm4/document.php?CISOROOT=/BOMP&CISOPTR=472&CISO SHOW=471