Joseph Smith and Another Chastisement from the Angel

This section and some of the following sections come from “The Prophet and His Progenitors for Many Generations” written by Lucy Mack Smith, the mother of Joseph Smith. The book was published in 1853 in Liverpool. The original ghost writer of this book is Martha Jane Knowlton Coray who is my great great great grandmother on my mother’s side. Edits were later made to this book and republished as The History of Joseph Smith by His Mother. 

The majority of this chapter focuses on some individuals who sought to defraud the Smith family of their farm, which in the end, the Smith family retained possession. Joseph Smith Jr. has another angelic visitation which included a reprimand. This happened as Joseph passed by, as he called it, the Hill Cumorah in New York.



A few days subsequent to my husband’s departure, I set myself to work to put my house in order for the reception of my son’s bride; and I felt all that pride and ambition in doing so, that is common to mothers upon such occasions.

My oldest son had, previous to this, formed a matrimonial relation with one of the most excellent of women, with whom I had seen much enjoyment, and I hoped for as much happiness with my second daughter-in-law, as I had received from the society of the first, and there was no reason why I should expect anything to the contrary.

One afternoon, after having completed my arrangements, I fell into a very agreeable train of reflections. The day was exceedingly fine, and of itself calculated to produce fine feelings; besides this, every other circumstance seemed to be in unison, and to contribute to raise in the heart those soothing and grateful emotions which we all have seasons of enjoying when the mind is at rest. Thus, as I stood musing, among other things, upon the prospect of a quite and comfortable old age, my attention was suddenly arrested by a trio of strangers who were just entering. Upon their near approach I found one of these gentlemen to be Mr. Stoddard, the principal carpenter in building the house in which we then lived.

When they entered the house, I seated them, and commenced common-place conversation. But shortly one of them began to ask questions which I considered rather impertinent–questions concerning our making the last payment of the place; and if we did not wish to sell the house; furthermore, where Mr. Smith and my son had gone, &c. &c.

“Sell the house!” I replied, “No, sir, we have no occasion for that, we have made every necessary arrangement to get the deed, and also have an understanding with the agent. So you see we are quite secure, in regard to this matter.”

To this they made no answer, but went out to meet Hyrum, who was approaching the house. They asked him the same questions, and he answered them the same as I had done. When they had experimented in this way, to their satisfaction, they proceeded to inform my son, that he need put himself to no further trouble with regard to the farm; “for,” said they, “we have bought the place, and paid for it, and we now forbid your touching anything on the farm; and we also warn you to leave forthwith, and give possession to the lawful owners.”

This conversation passed within my hearing. When they re-entered the house, I said, Hyrum, is it a reality? or only a sham to startle us? But one collected look at the men convinced me of their fiendish determination–I was overcome, and fell back into my chair almost deprived of sensibility.

When I recovered, we (Hyrum and myself) talked to them some time, endeavouring to persuade them to change their vile course; but the only answer we could get from them was, “Well, we’ve got the place, and d–n you, help yourselves if you can.”

Hyrum, in a short time, went to an old friend, Dr. Robinson, and related to him the grievous story. Whereupon, the old gentleman sat down, and wrote at some considerable length the character of the family–our industry, and faithful exertions to secure a home, with many commendations calculated to beget confidence in us with respect to business transactions. And, keeping this writing in his own hands, he went through the village, and in an hour procured sixty subscribers. He then sent the same, by the hand of Hyrum, to the land agent, who lived in Canandaigua.

On receiving this, the agent was highly enraged. He said the men had told him that Mr., Smith and his son Joseph had run away, and that Hyrum was cutting down the sugar orchard, hauling off the rails, burning them, and doing all manner of mischief to the farm. That, believing this statement, he was induced to sell the place, for which he had given a deed, and received the money.

Hyrum told him the circumstances under which his father and brother had left home; also the probability of their being detained on the road, to attend to some business. Upon this, the agent directed him to address a number of letters to my husband, and have them sent and deposited in public-houses on the road which he travelled, that, perchance some of them might meet his eye, and thus cause him to return more speedily than he would otherwise. He then despatched a messenger to those individuals to whom he had given a deed of the farm in question, with the view of making a compromise with them; but they refused to do anything respecting the matter. The agent sent a message to them, stating that if they did not make their appearance forthwith, he would fetch them with a warrant. To this they gave heed, and they came without delay.

The agent strove to convince them of the disgraceful and impolitic course which they were pursuing, and endeavoured to persuade them to retract, and let the land go back into Mr. Smith’s hands again.

For some time they said but little, except in a sneering and taunting way, about as follows:– “We’ve got the land, sir, and we’ve got the deed, so just let Smith help himself. Oh, no matter about Smith, he has gold plates, gold bibles, he is rich– he don’t want anything.” But finally, they agreed, if Hyrum could raise them one thousand dollars, by Saturday at ten o’clock in the evening, they would give up the deed.

It was now Thursday about noon, and Hyrum was at Canandaigua, which was nine miles distant from home, and hither he must ride before he could make the first move towards raising the required amount. He came home with a heavy heart. When he arrived, he found his father, who had returned a short time before him. His father had fortunately found, within fifty miles of home, one of those letters which Hyrum had written.

The following day, by the request of my husband, I went to see an old Quaker, a gentleman with whom we had been quite intimate since our commencement on the farm, and who had always seemed to admire the neat arrangement of the same. We hoped that he would be both able and willing to purchase the place, that we might at least have the benefit of the crops that were upon the ground, as he was a friend and would be disposed to show us favour. But we were disappointed, not in his will or disposition, but in his ability. He had just paid out to the land agent all the money he could spare, to redeem a piece of land belonging to a friend in his immediate neighborhood. If I had arrived at his house thirty minutes sooner, I would have found him with fifteen-hundred dollars in his pocket.

When I rehearsed to him what had taken place, he was much distressed for us, and very much regretted his inability to relieve our necessity. He said, however, “If I have no money, I will try to do something for you, and you may say to your husband, that I will see him as soon as I can, and let him know what the prospect is.”

It was nearly night–the country was new, and my road lay through the dense forest. The distance that I had to travel was ten miles, and that alone, yet I hastened to inform my husband of the disappointment that I had met with.

The old gentleman, as soon as I left, starting in search of some one that could afford us assistance, and hearing of a Mr. Durfee, who lived four miles distant, he came the same night, and directed us to go and see what he could devise for our benefit.

Accordingly, my husband started without delay for Mr. Durfee’s, and arrived at his house before daylight in the morning. He sent my husband three miles further, to one of his sons, who was High Sheriff, instructing him to say to the young man that his father wished to see him as soon as possible. Mr. Durfee, the younger, was obedient to the call. Immediately after he arrived at his father’s, the three proceeded together to see the farm, and arrived about ten o’clock A.M. They tarried a short time, then rode on to see the agent and those villains who held the deed of our place.

The anxiety of mind that I suffered that day can more easily be imagined than described. I now looked upon the proceeds of our industry, which smiled around us on every hand, with a kind of yearning attachment that I never before had experienced; and our early losses I did not feel so keenly, for I then realized that we were young, and by making some exertions we might improve our circumstances; besides, I had not felt the inconveniences of poverty as I had since.

My husband, and the Messrs. Durfee, arrived in Canandaigua at half-past nine o’clock in the evening. The agent sent immediately for Mr. Stoddard and his friends, and they came without delay; but in order to make difficulty, they contended that it was after ten o’clock; however, not being able to sustain themselves upon this ground, they handed over the deed to Mr. Durfee, the High Sheriff, who now became the possessor of the farm.

I stated before, that at the time Mr. Smith started to see Knight and Stoal, Joseph accompanied him. When he returned, Joseph also returned with him, and remained with us, until the difficulty about the farm came to an issue; he then took leave for Pennsylvania, on the same business as before mentioned, and the next January returned with his wife, in good health and fine spirits.

Not long subsequent to his return, my husband had occasion to send him to Manchester, on business. As he set off early in the day, we expected him home at most by six o’clock in the evening, but when six o’clock came, he did not arrive. We always had a peculiar anxiety about him whenever he was absent, for it seemed as though something was always taking place to jeopardize his life. But to return. He did not get home till the night was far spent. On coming in, he threw himself into a chair, apparently much exhausted. My husband did not observe his appearance, and immediately exclaimed, “Joseph, why are you so late? has anything happened to you? We have been much distressed about you these three hours.” As Joseph made no answer, he continued his interrogations, until, finally, I said, “Now, father, let him rest a moment–don’t trouble him now–you see he is home safe, and he is very tired, so pray wait a little.”

The fact was, I had learned to be a little cautious about matters with regard to Joseph, for I was accustomed to see him look as he did on that occasion, and I could not easily mistake the cause thereof.

Presently he smiled, and said in a calm tone, “I have taken the severest chastisement that I have ever had in my life.”

My husband, supposing that it was from some of the neighbours, was quite angry, and observed, “I would like to know what business anybody has to find fault with you!”

“Stop, father, stop,” said Joseph, “it was the angel of the Lord: as I passed by the hill of Cumorah, where the plates are, the angel met me, and said that I had not been engaged enough in the work of the Lord; that the time had come for the Record to be brought forth; and that I must be up and doing, and set myself about the things which God had commanded me to do. But, father, give yourself no uneasiness concerning the reprimand which I have received, for I now know the course that I am to pursue, so all will be well.”

It was also made known to him, at this interview, that he should make another effort to obtain the plates, on the twenty-second of the following Sept., but this he did not mention to us at that time.