the thinker

Gold Digging / Seer Stones / Peep Stones

Back to Mormon Quotes Index


Yea, we have hid up our treasures and they have slipped away from us, because of the curse of the land…

Book of Mormon, Helaman 13:35

[These people] began to hide up their treasures in the earth; and they became slippery, because the Lord had cursed the land.

Book of Mormon, Mormon 1:18

Patriarch Joseph Smith, Sr. (1771 - 1840), father of Joseph Smith, Jr.

[Joseph Smith, Jr.] claims and believes that there is a [seer] stone of this quality, somewhere, for every one.

Patriarch Joseph Smith, Sr., in Fayette Lampham, “Interview with the Father of Joseph Smith, the Mormon Prophet,” Historical Magazine (second series),Vol 7, p. 306; also Kirkham, New Witness for Christ in America, v. 2, p. 384

Martin Harris (1783 - 1875), one of the Three Witnesses:

Joseph had a stone which was dug from the well of Mason Chase, twenty-four feet from the surface. In this stone he could see many things to my certain knowledge. It was by means of this stone he first discovered these plates.

High Priest Martin Harris, one of the Three Witnesses to the Book of Mormon, Tiffany’s Monthly, Aug. 1859 (v. 5, no. 4), pp. 162-63.

The money-diggers claimed that they had as much right to the plates as Joseph had, as they were in company together. They claimed that Joseph had been [a] traitor, and had appropriated to himself that which belonged to them.

High Priest Martin Harris, one of the Three Witnesses to the Book of Mormon, Tiffany’s Monthly, Aug. 1859 (v. 5, no. 4), p. 166.

Consequently long before the idea of a Golden Bible entered their minds, in their excursions for money-digging, which I believe usually occurred in the night, that they might conceal from others the knowledge of the place, where they struck their treasures, Jo used to be usually their guide, putting into a hat a peculiar stone he had through which he looked to decide where they should begin to dig. It was after one of these night excursions, that Jo, while he lay upon his bed, had a remarkable dream. An angel of God seemed to approach him, clad in celestial splendor.

Martin Harris, as reported in Gleanings by the Way, by John A. Clark, 1840, Chapter XXII, p. 225.

There was a company there in the neighborhood, who were digging for money supposed to have been hidden by the ancients. Of this company were old Mr. Stowell – I think his name was Josiah – also old Mr. Beman, also Samuel Lawrence, George Proper, Joseph Smith, jr., and his father, and his brother Hiram Smith. They dug for money in Palmyra, Manchester, also in Pennsylvania, and other places… and they took Joseph to look in the stone for them, and he did so for a while, and he then told them the enchantment was so strong that he could not see, and they gave it up.

High Priest Martin Harris, one of the Three Witnesses to the Book of Mormon, Tiffany’s Monthly, Aug. 1859 (v. 5, no. 4), p. 377

With the sanction of David Whitmer, and by his authority, I now state that he does not say that Joseph Smith ever translated in his presence by aid of Urim and Thummim, but by means of one dark colored, opaque stone called a ‘Seer Stone,’ which was placed in the crown of a hat, into which Joseph would put his face, so as to exclude the external light. Then, a spiritual light would shine forth, and parchment would appear before Joseph, upon which was a line of characters from the plates, and under it, the translation in English; at least, so Joseph said.

High Priest Martin Harris, The Saints' Herald, Vol. 26, No. 22, November 15, 1879, p. 341, Col. 3.

David Whitmer (1805 - 1888), one of the Three Witnesses:

I will now give you a description of the manner in which the Book of Mormon was translated. Joseph would put the seer stone into a hat, and put his face in the hat, drawing it closely around his face to exclude the light; and in the darkness the spiritual light would shine.

High Priest David Whitmer, one of the Three Witnesses to the Book of Mormon, An Address to All Believers in Christ, p. 12

The revelations in the Book of Commandments up to June, 1829, were given through the ‘stone,’ through which the Book of Mormon was translated.

High Priest David Whitmer, An Address to All Believers in Christ, 1887, p. 53

Prophet Brigham Young (1801 - 1877):

These treasures that are in the earth are carefully watched, they can be removed from place to place according to the good pleasure of Him who made them and owns them. He has his messengers at his service, and it is just as easy for an angel to remove the minerals from any part of these mountains to another, as it is for you and me to walk up and down this hall. I relate this because it is marvelous to you. But to those who understand these things, it is not marvelous.

Prophet Brigham Young, Journal of Discourses, v. 19, pp. 37-38

The seer stone which Joseph Smith first obtained He got in an Iron kettle 25 feet under ground. He saw it while looking in another seers stone which a person had. He went right to the spot & dug & found it.

Prophet Brigham Young, in Wilford Woodruff’s Journal, 1833-1898 Typescript, 9 vols., ed. by Scott G. Kenney, v. 5, September 11, 1859, pp. 382-383

Ten years ago, it was called heresy for Joseph Smith to be a money digger, and receive revelations; it actually became treason; and the people killed him for it: and now I see hundreds of reverend gentlemen going to dig money. I despise a man who won’t dig for gold, he is a lazy man, and intends to spunge on others. Do not think that I blame you; all I have to say is, that you have to follow in the wake of ‘Old Joe Smith,’ and paddle away to dig gold.

Prophet Brigham Young, June 23, 1850, Deseret News, June 29, 1850, p. 20

The president of the priests has a right to the Urim and Thummim, which gives revelation.

Prophet Brigham Young, History of the Church, v. 7, p. 285

[Joseph Smith, Jr. said] every man who lived on the earth was entitled to a seer stone, and should have one, but they are kept from them in consequence of their wickedness.

Prophet Brigham Young, “History of Brigham Young,” Latter-day Saints’ Millennial Star, v. 26, February 20, 1864

Prophet Wilford Woodruff (1807 - 1898):

Before leaving I Consecrated upon the Altar the seers Stone that Joseph Smith found by Revelation some 30 feet under the Earth [and] Carried By him through life.

Prophet Wilford Woodruff, in Kenny, Wilford Woodruff’s Journal, v. 8, May 18, 1888, p. 500

President Woodruff [remarked] in relation to the seer stone known as ‘Gazalem,’ which was shown of the Lord to the Prophet Joseph to be some thirty feet under ground, and which he obtained by digging under the pretense of excavating for a well, as related in his own history. This remarkable stone was used by the Prophet.

Prophet Wilford Woodruff statement during meeting with James E. Talmage, February 22, 1893, LDS archives, as quoted in Early Mormonism and the Magic World View, by D. Michael Quinn, p. 174


His (Joseph’s) occupation was that of seeing, or pretending to see by means of a stone placed in his hat, and his hat closed over his face. In this way he pretended to discover minerals and hidden treasures…. The manner in which he pretended to read and interpret, was the same as when he looked for the money-diggers, with the stone in his hat, and his hat over his face, while the Book of Plates were at the same time hid in the woods!

Isaac Hale affidavit, Joseph Smith, Jr.'s father-in-law, in Susquehanna Register, May 1, 1834

According to our recollection, the starting point of the money digging speculation in our vicinity in which Joseph Smith, jr. was engaged was as follows…. a man by the name of Wm. Hale, a distant relative of our uncle Isaac Hale, came to Isaac Hale and said that he had been informed by a woman named Odle, who claimed to possess the power of seeing under ground, such persons were then commonly called peepers, that there was great treasure concealed in the hill north-east from his, Isaac Hale’s house. By her directions, Wm. Hale commences digging, but being too lazy to work, and too poor to hire, he obtained a partner by the name of Oliver Harper, of [New] York state, who had the means to hire help. But after a short time, operations were suspended for a time: during the suspension, Wm. Hale heard of peeper Joseph Smith, jr., wrote to him, and soon visited him; he found Smith’s representations were so flattering that Smith was either hired or became a partner with Wm. Hale, Oliver Harper, and a man by the name of Stowell, who had some property.

Joseph Lewis and Hiel Lewis, cousins of Emma Smith, “MORMON HISTORY, A New Chapter, About to Be Published,” Amboy Journal (IL), April 30, 1879, reprinted with slight variations in Mormon Portraits, by W. Wyl, p. 78

When we arrived at Mr. Hale’s, in Harmony, P.A. from which place he [Joseph] had taken his wife, a scene presented itself, truly affecting. His father-in-law (Mr. Hale) addressed Joseph, in a flood of tears: ‘You have stolen my daughter and married her. I had much rather have followed her to her grave. You spend your time in digging for money – pretended to see in a stone, and thus try to deceive people.’ Joseph wept, and acknowledged he could not see in a stone now, nor never could; and that his former pretensions in that respect, were all false. He then promised to give up his old habits of digging for money and looking into stones.

Peter Ingersoll, Affidavit, as quoted in Mormonism Unveiled, by E.D. Howe, pp. 234-235

They [the Smith’s] lived, at that time, in Palmyra, about one mile and a half from my residence. A great part of their time was devoted to digging for money: especially in the night time, when they said the money could be most easily obtained….

“Joseph Smith, Sen., came to me one night, and told me, that Joseph Jr. had been looking in his glass, and had seen, not many rods from his house, two or three kegs of gold and silver, some feet under the surface of the earth; and that none others but the elder Joseph and myself could get them. I accordingly consented to go, and early in the evening repaired to the place of deposit. Joseph, Sen. first made a circle, twelve or fourteen feet in diameter. This circle, said he, contains the treasure. He then struck in the ground a row of witch hazel sticks, around the said circle, for the purpose of keeping off the evil spirits. Within this circle he made another, of about eight or ten feet in diameter. He walked around three times on the periphery of this last circle, muttering to himself something which I could not understand. He next struck a steel rod in the centre of the circles, and then enjoined profound silence upon us, lest we should arouse the evil spirit who had the charge of these treasures. After we had dug a trench about five feet in depth around the rod, the old man by signs and motions, asked leave of absence, and went to the house to inquire of young Joseph the cause of our disappointment. He soon returned and said, that Joseph had remained all this time in the house, looking in his stone and watching the motions of the evil spirit – that he saw the spirit come up to the ring and as soon as it beheld the cone which we had formed around the rod, it caused the money to sink. We then went into the house, and the old man observed, that we had made a mistake in the commencement of the operation; if it had not been for that, we should have got the money.

William Stafford, affidavit, as quoted in Mormonism Unveiled, by E.D. Howe, pp. 237-239

She [Sally Chase, glass-looker] told me several times that young Jo Smith, who became the Mormon prophet, often came to inquire of her where to dig for treasures.

Mrs. S.F. Aderick affidavit, 1887, Joseph Smith’s New York Reputation Reexamined, by Roger Anderson, p. 153

There was much digging for money on our farm and about the neighborhood. I saw Uncle John and Cousin Joshua Stafford dig a hole twenty feet long, eight broad and seven deep. They claimed that they were digging for money but were not successful in finding any. Jo Smith kept it up after our neighbors had abandoned it.

Cornelius R. Stafford, 1885, Joseph Smith’s New York Reputation Reexamined, by Roger Anderson, p. 154

Joe Smith was here lumbering soon after my marriage, which was in 1818, some years before he took to ‘peeping,’ and before diggings were commenced under his direction.

John B. Buck, History of Susquehanna County, by Emily C. Blackman, p. 575

… they would make a circle, and Jo Smith claimed if they threw any dirt over the circle the money chest would leave. They never found any money.

Ketchel A.E. Bell affidavit, May 6, 1885, in Naked Truths About Mormonism, 1, January 1888, p. 3

Although Smith’s later accounts limited his treasure-seeking activities to his experience with Stowell in Pennsylvania, he continued similar ventures in Chenango and Broome counties [in New York State] until his arrest and court hearing in March 1826.

Dan Vogel, “Locations of Joseph Smith’s Early Treasure Quests,” p. 219

I was well acquainted with the elder Smith; he often came to see me, and we had many long talks together… [Joseph Smith, Sr.] told me of the stones his son Joseph had found, and by means of which he could see hidden treasures and many wonderful things.

“The Birth of Mormonism,” Deseret Evening News, November 10, 1888

Joseph once showed me a piece of wood which he said he took from a box of money, and the reason he gave for not obtaining the box, was, that it moved.

Joseph Stafford Statement, 1833, see Early Mormonism and the Magic World View, by D. Michael Quinn, p. 60

Question 10. Was not Jo Smith a money digger. Answer. Yes, but it was never a very profitable job to him, as he only got fourteen dollars a month for it.

Elders’ Journal of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, v. 1, p. 43, July 1838

Joseph himself never denied that he had been a seer in peepstones before establishing himself as a prophet of God… It has remained for a later generation of believers to deny the stories altogether.

Dale L. Morgan, Dale Morgan on Early Mormonism, by Walker, 370n26, see Early Mormonism and the Magic World View, by D. Michael Quinn, p. 63

The angel told [Joseph] this was not holy ground, but to move south. Martin Harris stayed at this home [in Manchester] when I was about 13 years of age and I used to go over to the diggings about 100 rods or a little less S.E. of this house. It is near a clump of bushes. Martin Harris regarded it as fully as sacred as the Mormon Hill diggings.

- Wallace Miner statement, 1932, see Early Mormonism and the Magic World View, by D. Michael Quinn, p. 63

Alva Hale [Emma’s brother] says: ‘Joe Smith never handled one shovel full of earth in those diggings. All that Smith did was to peep with stone and hat, and give directions where and how to dig, and when and where the enchantment moved the treasure.’

Joseph Lewis, Emma Smith’s cousin, “Review of Mormonism: Rejoinder to Elder Cadwell,” Amboy Journal (IL), June 11, 1879

People of all classes were affected by the urge to find treasure… Excitement over the possibilities of Indian treasure or Spanish gold was at a feverish pitch during the adolescence of Joseph Smith.

Ivan J. Barrett, BYU religion professor, Joseph Smith and the Restoration: A History of the Church to 1846, pp. 57-58

‘Mormon Hill’ had been long designated ‘as the place in which countless treasures were buried;’ Joseph the elder, had ‘spaded’ up many a foot of the hill side to find them, and Joseph, Jr. had on more than one occasion accompanied him.

“Mormonism in its Infancy,” Newark Daily Advertiser, clipping of letter from Manchester, New York, August 8, 1856

President [Brigham] Young exhibited the Seer’s stone with which The Prophet Joseph discovered the plates of the Book of Mormon, to the Regents [of the University of Deseret (Utah)] this evening. It is said to be a silecious granite dark color almost black with light colored stripes.

Hosea Stout diary, 25 Feb. 1856, in Juanita Brooks, ed., On the Mormon Frontier: The Diaries of Hosea Stout, 1844-1861, v. 2, p. 593

It was among an ignorant and credulous people of this kind, capable of believing in the necromantic virtues of a big stone held in a hat, and of treasure descending perpetually under the spades of the searches by enchantment, a people already prepared for any bold superstition by previous indulgence in a variety of religious extravagances, that Joseph Smith found his early coadjutors and first converts.

Charles Marshall, “The Original Prophet,” Frazer’s Magazine, v. 87, p. 230, February 1873

On Sunday last I saw and handled the seer stone that the Prophet Joseph Smith had. It was a dark color, not round on one side. It was shaped like the top of a baby’s shoe, one end like the toe of the shoe, and the other round.

Samuel Bateman diary, August 17, 1887, Lee Library

[Lorenzo Snow] showed me the Seerers Stone that the Prophet Joseph Smith had by which he dome some of the Translating of the Book of Mormon with. I handeled it with my own hands. I felt as though I see & was handling a very Sacred thing. I trust & feel that it will work in his [Lorenzo Snow’s] hands as it did in the Prophet Joseph Smiths hands.

Frederick Kesler diary, February 1, 1899, Marriott Library

The stone was not chocolate brown but rather the color of brown sugar. It was 3-4 inches long, 2 inches wide, and had a hump in the middle which made it perhaps 2 inches think at the thickest point. It was flat on the bottom and had three black, concentric circles on the top ½ inch. Below the circles were many small black circles. The stone was not transparent.

Mary Brown Firmage Woodward, interview with Richard S. Van Wagoner, August 11, 1986, Marriott Library

September 23, 1899

…The next morning (Sept. 23, 1899) Brother Carleton came out of his room with a coin in his hand and told me that he had plowed it up in his field on the banks of the St. Mary's River. He also told me that he had felt impressed during the night to give the coin to me although he had refused the Elder who had baptized him. "I looked at the coin as he handed it to me and I thought that I knew what it was, as I had seen a picture of Nephite coins on the fly leaf of the old edition of the Book of Mormon. The coin bore a striking resemblance to those coins.".I told him I had made up my mind to take it to the First Presidency of the Church.On the way home between Pueblo, Colorado and Salt Lake City, the first morning out, there was on the train an historian and writer from England by the name of Willis.He then said to me, ".I will place seven thousand dollars ($7000) in the bank to your credit.I thanked him for his interest but repeated that the coin was not for sale.In the office of the First Presidency there were President Lorenzo Snow, President Joseph F. Smith, President Francis M. Lyman and _________. After reporting my mission, I took the coin out and showed it to them. President Lyman went and got the old edition (probably the first edition) of the Book of Mormon in which pictures of nephite coins were printed, and found the same coin immediately.

Description of the Nephite Coin

The Egyptian characters were identically the same as those on one of the pictures in the Book of Mormon. The coin had not tarnished and the characters looked as if they had been stamped. The coin was about the size of a five-dollar gold piece, eight cornered and about as thick again as common tin, it was stamped on both sides, the characters running around the outside. The characters were small, somewhat like script or cursive writing, more like the hieratic than the hieroglyphic form. As I have said before, they were identical with the characters pictured on the Nephite coin in the old edition of the Book of Mormon.

I was asked what I intended doing with the coin and I turned to President Snow and told him that I was making him a present of the coin; that President Rich had told me that that was the proper thing to do and that I was following his instructions.

President Snow put his arm around my shoulder and said, "brother Robinson, you have been faithful and have kept the pledge."

He then went and got the money purse or leather bag that President Brigham Young had brought to the Rocky Mountains with him, also the Seer Stone and said, "This is the Seer Stone that the Prophet Joseph Smith used. There are very few worthy to view this, but you are." HE handed the Seer Stone to me and I couldn't express the joy that came to me as I took that stone in my hands. Words are not equal to the task of expressing such a sublime joy." He then told me to hand the seers stone to my wife and I handed it to her. He then blessed us with the greatest blessing I have ever heard fall from the mouth of man."

Description of the Seer Stone

The Seer Stone was the shape of an egg though not quite so large, of a gray cast something like granite but with white stripes running round it. It was transparent but had no holes, neither in the end or in the sides.

Richard M. Robinson, "The History of a Nephite Coin," 4-5, signed by Robinson and his wife Maria, 30 Dec. 1934, LDS Archives, MS 5147. Cited in Mark Ashurst-McGee, "A Pathway to Prophethood: Joseph Smith Junior as Rodsman, Village Seer, and Judeo-Christian Prophet," (Master's Thesis, University of Utah, Logan, Utah, 2000), 264.

He [Orson Pratt] asked Joseph [Smith, Jr.] whether he could not ascertain what his mission was and Joseph answered that he would see. & asked Pratt and John Whitmer to go up stairs with him. and arriving there Joseph produced a small stone called a seer stone. and putting it into a hat soon commenced speaking.

James R.B. Vancleave to Joseph Smith III, September 29, 1878, p. 2, RLDS library-archives; reprinted in Lyndon W. Cook, ed., David Whitmer Interviews: A Restoration Witness, 1991, pp. 239-240

Jo Smith told me there was a peep-stone for me and many others if we could only find them.

Christopher M. Stafford statement, March 23, 1885, in Naked Truths About Mormonism, April 1888, p. 1; reprinted in Anderson, Joseph Smith’s New York Reputation Reexamined, p. 166

[There was] a decline of confidence in Joseph’s seership when the Prophet announced that he would no longer use the Urim and Thummim or seerstone in the revelation process.

Dennis A. Wright, BYU religion professor, “The Hiram Page Stone: A Lesson in Church government,” in The Doctrine and Covenants: A Book of Answers, The 25th Annual Sidney B. Sperry Symposium, 1996, p. 87

Mormon elders and women [in Kirtland] often searched the bed of the river for stones with holes caused by the sand washing out, to peep into. N.K. Whitney’s wife had one. I took it to search for a cot [i.e. bandage] I had lost from my injured finger. She said it was wicked to trifle with sacred things.

Samuel F. Whitney affidavit, March 6, 1885, in Naked Truths About Mormonism, v. 1, January 1888, p. 3, also see Vogel, Early Mormon Documents, v. 2

[Elias Pulsipher] found a brown colored stone about 2½ inches wide and 6 inches long with two holes in it. The Prophet Joseph examined it and declared it to be a seer stone. It is not known if Elias could use it but his daughter could. She located drowned persons, lost cattle and other items for people who sought such information. Her daughter also could use it and after would see whatever she desired. One strange thing happened though: she once asked to see Satan – which she did – but that was the last time that stone ever worked or anyone.

“Statement by Elaine Mullins, descendant of Elias Pulsipher,” in Kraut, Seers and Seer Stones, p. 55

There are men among us, holding the Holy Priesthood, who in events of their lives would rather stare into a bit of flint-glass that enterprising dealers name a seer-stone, for the solution of their troubles, than to go with the power and authority of their Priesthood to the Almighty Father in prayer.

Apostle John A. Widtsoe, “The Folly of Astrology,” Improvement Era, v. 4, February 1901, p. 290

When I was twelve years old [in 1958], my grandfather, who had been a mission president in the 1940s, gave me a small stone. He was a Latter-day Saint who frequently had visions and dreams. Grandfather said that he found this stone while he was pondering the significance of the Prophet Joseph’s seer stone. Grandfather held this stone in his right hand as he spoke in Church meetings, and rubbed the stone between his right thumb and index finger. He said that when he rubbed this stone it gave him the spirit of inspiration to speak. Grandfather said he carried it in his pocket all the time, and used it whenever he spoke in Church. He told me to carry it with me, and that it would give me inspiration as I spoke.

James Wirthlin McConkie II written statement, November 19, 1986, see Early Mormonism and the Magic World View, by D. Michael Quinn, p. 255

One day as I was taking Orson [Pratt] and Luke [S. Johnson] down to my Grandfathers [near Sackett’s Harbor, New York] in the carriage; we were passing a spot where but a little time before a thief had hid some money and it could not be found; Luke said to me ‘hadent we better go and try? I think we will find it.’ I, not understanding his meaning replied I thought it not worth while to try. He said it was not, but Jo. Smith was said to be a great money dig[g]er and they were his followers.

Oliver B. Huntington holograph diary, v. 2, 1845-46, p. 7

[Lucy] once came to my mother to get a stone the children had found, of curious shape. She wanted to use it as a peepstone.

Samantha Payne, affidavit, June 29, 1881, Ontario County Clerk’s Office, Canandaigua, New York, published in Ontario County Times, July 27, 1881, Marquardt papers, Marriott Library

Josiah Stowell, a Mormonite, being sworn, testified that he positively knew that said Smith never had lied to, or deceived him, and did not believe he ever tried to deceive any body else. The following questions were then asked him, to which he made the replies annexed.

    [Q] Did Smith ever tell you there was money hid in a certain place which he mentioned?
    [A] Yes
    [Q] Did he tell you, you could find it by digging?
    [A] Yes.
    [Q] Did you dig?
    [A] Yes.
    [Q] Did you find any money?
    [A] No.
    [Q] Did he not lie to you then, and deceive you?
    [A] No! the money was there, but we did not get quite to it!
    [Q] How do you know it was there?
    [A] Smith said it was!

A.W. Benson, “Mormonites,” Evangelical Magazine, v. 2, April 9, 1831, p. 120

… at the very same time that Stowell was digging for money, he, Austin was in company with said Smith alone, and asked him to tell him honestly whether he could see this money or not. Smith hesitated some time, but finally replied, ‘to be candid, between you and me, I cannot, any more than you or any body else; but any way to get a living.

A.W. Benson, “Mormonites,” Evangelical Magazine, v. 2, April 9, 1831, p. 120

I had seen him two or three times, while visiting at my sister’s, but did not think it worth my while to take any notice of him. I never spoke to him, for he was a total stranger to me. However, I thought him odd looking and queer. He also told his friends that he could see money in pots, under the ground. He pretended to foretell people’s future destiny, and, according to his prognostication, his friends agreed to suspend their avocations and dig for the treasures, which were hidden in the earth; a great share of which, he said, was on Joseph Knight’s farm….

… in the time of their digging for money and not finding it attainable, Joe Smith told them there was a charm on the pots of money, and if some animal was killed and the blood sprinkled around the place, then they could get it. So they killed a dog, and tried this method of obtaining the precious metal; but again money was scarce in those diggings. Still, they dug and dug, but never came to the precious treasure. Alas! how vivid was the expectation when the blood of poor Tray was used to take off the charm, and after all to find their mistake.

Emily Coburn, in Emily M. Austin, Mormonism; or, Life Among the Mormons, 1882, pp. 32-33

This man [Joseph] has been known, in these parts, for some time, as a kind of Juggler, who has pretended, through a glass, to see money under ground &c, &c. The book, on which he founds his new religion, is called the ‘Book of Mormon.’ It contains not much, and is rather calculated to suit the marvelous, and unthinking.

Reverend John Sherer, November 18, 1830; see Marquardt and Walters, Inventing Mormonism, 1994, p. 187

John C. Whitmer, a son of Jacob, told me that when O. Pratt and J.F. Smith were at Richmond to see ‘D.C.,’ [David Whitmer] in 1878, he asked Orson how he first understood the B[ook]. Of M[ormon]. was translated, and Orson said ‘twas by means of the Seer Stone-stone. He said he asked Orson if he ever knew of the stone’s being used after the translation, and he answered that he did; and that Joe took him upstairs at Whitmers, in Fayette, N.Y., after meeting, one Sunday, and sat down and put the stone in his hat, and the hat over his face, and read off to him a revelation, as John Whitmer wrote it down. This was in November, 1830.

A.T. Schroeder Collection, State Historical Society of Madison Wisconsin; see Marquardt and Walters, Inventing Mormonism, 1994, p. 195

The seer stone referred to here was a chocolate-colored, somewhat egg-shaped stone which the Prophet found while digging a well in company with his brother Hyrum, for a Mr. Clark Chase, near Palmyra, N.Y. It possessed the qualities of Urim and Thummim, since by means of it – as described above, - as well as by means of the Interpreters found with the Nephite record, Joseph was able to translate the characters engraven on the plates.

B.H. Roberts, Defense of the Faith and the Saints, v. 1, p. 257

It should be remembered in connection with this ‘preparing an alphabet’ and ‘arranging a grammar of the Egyptian language’ that the Prophet still had in his possession the ‘Seer Stone.’

B.H. Roberts, New Witnesses for God, 1909, v. 2, p. 115


In imitation of the true order of heaven whereby seers receive revelations from God through a Urim and Thummim, the devil gives his own revelations to some of his followers through peep stones or crystal balls. An instance of this copying of the true order occurred in the early days of this dispensation. Hiram Page had such a stone and was professing to have revelations for the upbuilding of Zion and the governing of the Church. Oliver Cowdery and some others were wrongly influenced thereby in consequence of which Oliver was commanded by revelation: 'Thou shalt take thy brother, Hiram Page, between him and thee alone, and tell him that those things which he hath written from that stone are not of me, and that Satan deceiveth him.' (D.&C. 28:11.)

Bruce R. Mc Conkie, "Peep Stones," Mormon Doctrine, 1966