John W. Peterson recalls William Smith telling him Joseph put the U&T (which looked like a pair of spectacles) in a hat or some other dark object to translate the plates.

May 1, 1921
John W. Peterson
Scribed Verbatim
2nd Hand

“Statement of J. W. Peterson Concerning William Smith,” May 1, 1921, Miscellaneous Letters and Papers, Community of Christ Archives, Independence, Missouri

John W. Peterson, William S. Pender, Joseph Smith, Jr., William Smith, William H. Kephart

On the fourth day of July 4.1. One Thousand Eight-hundred and Ninety I first met William B. Smith who was a brother of Joseph Smith the first president and prophet of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. Together with Elder W. S. Pender we crossed the Mississippi river from Cassville Wisconsin, to Turkey River Jen. [Junction], Iowa late in the afternoon and walked twelve miles or thereabout<s>, to Osterdack[,] Iowa and about ten oclock at night called the old man<,> then in his 7<9>th <year> out o<f> bed and was gladly welcomed by him at that late hour of the night into his humble home.

I was then in my my twenty fifth year and the second year of my missionary experience. Most of the two or three days that followed was spent in asking the old man questions concerning his father’s family and his brother Joseph in particular, being at that time especially interested in the Urim and Thummim with which his brother translated the Book of Mormon.

He told us many incidents of his youth and childhood and that of his father’s family. One thing in particular impressed me forceably at that time and that was that Joseph had a natural gift of prophecy and revelatio<n> in his youthful days and often prophecied many things concerning the rise of the church and its developement as well as the inhabitants of ancient America. Without stopping to mention the questions we asked I will relate very briefly what he said on two or three important points.

He said he had hefted the plates as they lay on the table wrapped in an old frock or jacket in which Joseph <h>ad brought them home. That he had thum[b]ed them through the cloth and ascertained that they were thin sheets of some kind of metal. When asked why he had not uncovered them he said they were told not to do so unless the Lord would give permission, that they were the property of an angel and had received strict commandfments] with regard to that matter. Bro. Pender remarked that most people would ha[v]e examined them any way. The old man suddenly straiphtened [straightened] up and look looked intently at him and said. The Lord knew he could trust Joseph and as for the rest of the family we had no desire to transgress the commandment of the Lord but on the other hand was exceeding anxious to do al<l> we we were commanded to do. Explaining the expression as to the stones in the Urim and thummim being set in two rims of a bow he said: A silver bow ran over one stone, under the other, arround over that one and under the first in the shape of a horizontal figure 8 much like a pair of spectacles. That they were much too large for Joseph and he could only see through one at a time using sometimes one and sometimes the other. By putting his head in a hat or some dark object it was not necessary to close one eye while looking through the stone with the other. In that way sometimes when his eyes grew tires [tired] he releaved them of the strain. He also said the Urim and Thummim was attached to the breastplate by a rod which was fastened at the outer shouldefr] edge of the breastplate and to the end of the silver bow. This rod was just the right length so that when the Urim and thummim was removed from before the eyes it woul<d> reac<h> to a pocked [pocket?] on the left side of the breastplate where the instrument was kept when not in use by the Seer. I was not informed whether it was de=tacha<bl>e from the breastplate or not. From the fact that Joseph often had it with him and sometimes when at work<,> <I> am of the opinion that it could be detached. He also informed us that the rod served to hold it before the eyes of the Seer.

I was called to see the old man a few days before his death which occurred in November 1893 and secured his <d>ieing testamony and had it sworn to before a Baptist preacher of that place who was also a notar<y> public. William Kephart by name. This same preacher soon united with our church and later became one of our missionaries. As near as I can remember that document was exactly as the one he issued ten years before which is as follows. . . .

Very Sincerely

J. W. Peterson

Citations in Mormonr Qnas
Copyright © B. H. Roberts Foundation
The B. H. Roberts Foundation is not owned by, operated by, or affiliated with the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.