We're the Smiths Treasure Diggers?

Many people believed in buried treasure, the ability to see spirits and their dwelling places within the local hills and elsewhere. This is one reason why treasure digging as a paid service was practiced. Joseph Smith, his father, and his brother Hyrum had engaged in treasure hunting from 1820–1827.


CES Letter, Page 86

The Smiths were farmers and spent the bulk of their time planting and harvesting the land.

Historical evidence does not support a conclusion that treasure hunting was a "business" with the Smith family.

“The Smith farm had a perimeter of one and 2/3 miles. To fence that distance with a standard stone and stinger fence required moving tons of stone from fields to farm perimeter, then cutting and placing about 4,000 ten-foot rails. This does not include the labor and materials involved in fencing the barnyard, garden, pastures, and orchard, which, at a conservative estimate, required an additional 2,000 to 3,000 cut wooden rails. Clearly, this work alone—all of it separate from the actual labor of farming—represents a prodigious amount of concerted planning and labor....

In comparison to others in the township and neighborhood, the Smiths' efforts and accomplishments were superior to most. In the township, only 40 percent of the farms were worth more per acre and just 25 percent were larger. In the "neighborhood," only 29 percent of the farms were worth more and only 26 percent were larger. (Donald L. Enders, "The Joseph Smith, Sr., Family: Farmers of the Genesee," in Joseph Smith, The Prophet, The Man, edited by Susan Easton Black and Charles D. Tate, Jr., (Provo, UT: BYU Religious Studies Center, 1993), 219, 221.) Click here

One neighbor “stated that one of their church leaders came to her father to remonstrate against his allowing such close friendship between his family and the "Smith boy," as he called him. Her father, she said, defended his own position by saying that the boy was the best help he had ever found.” (From the Notebook of Martha Cox, Grandmother of Fern Cox Anderson, LDS Church Archives, Salt Lake City, Utah)

Joseph Knight said that Joseph Smith, Jr. was “the best hand [my father] ever hired” (Autobiography of Joseph Knight Jr., 1, LDS Church Archives, Salt Lake City, Utah)


Additional Resources:

Contemporary witnesses regarded the Smiths as trustworthy and hard-working—It is claimed that there are "no contemporary pro-Mormon statements from reliable and informed sources who knew the Smith family and Joseph intimately." (Click here for full article)

Was the Smith family lazy, shiftless and seeking to make a living without performing labor?—It is claimed that Joseph Smith and his family were lazy, shiftless, and sought to make a living without labor. (Click here for full article)

Joseph Smith's early work as a farmhand—Critics wish to portray "money digging" as Joseph Smith, Jr's primary source of income during his early years. Joseph is even claimed to have run a successful "magic business." (Click here for full article)

Daniel C. Peterson and Donald L. Enders, "Can the 1834 Affidavits Attacking the Smith Family Be Trusted?," in Pressing Forward with the Book of Mormon: The FARMS Updates of the 1990s, ed. John W. Welch and Melvin J. Thorne (Provo, UT: FARMS, 1999), 286–87.

Jeffrey N. Walker, "Joseph Smith's Introduction to the Law: The 1819 Hurlbut Case," Mormon Historical Studies 11/1 (Spring 2010): 129–130.

Donald L. Enders, "The Joseph Smith, Sr., Family: Farmers of the Genesee," in Joseph Smith, The Prophet, The Man, edited by Susan Easton Black and Charles D. Tate, Jr., (Provo, UT: BYU Religious Studies Center, 1993), 213–25.