David Hale’s Store Ledger

New Details about Joseph and Emma Smith, the Hale Family, and the Book of Mormon


The printed version of this article includes photos and a transcript of only the ledger pages on which Joseph Smith’s trading activity is recorded. An extended version of this article includes a transcript of the ledger pages from 1827 to 1830, when Joseph left Harmony. The extended version also adds more information about the Hale family, how the store exchanges worked, and the provenance of the ledger.

As gossip filtered from one Wayne County, New York, farm to another that Joseph Smith Jr. claimed to have a collection of ancient artifacts, including an impressively heavy set of golden plates, it became increasingly difficult in October 1827 for him to keep the plates safe. But even before he had them in hand, Joseph and his wife, Emma Hale Smith, had arranged with Emma’s brother Alva Hale to help the couple move with the plates to northeastern Pennsylvania. The newly married Joseph agreed with his father-in-law, Isaac Hale, that he would buy a small farm there where he “expected to work hard for a living, and was willing to do so.”1 He would need to work hard, since his parents’ family had limited financial resources to draw from as Joseph was starting his own family. But he also planned on translating the Book of Mormon in his new home.

Joseph and Emma arrived in Pennsylvania’s Susquehanna Valley in early December 1827, and because they had little money the need to work hard was immediate and hampered whatever hopes the young couple had of quickly completing a translation. Fortunately, Emma’s older brother David Hale kept a store nearby where Joseph could trade labor and goods, which he did between January 1, 1828, and March 20, 1829, as he sought to establish his family and work on the translation.

Just as with any good country shopkeeper of the 1820s, David kept track of his barter exchanges with Joseph and their neighbors in an account book. This book preserves only a small part of Joseph’s economic activities but still helps place Book of Mormon translation efforts into their broader cultural setting.

In 2010, John M. Murphy, curator at BYU’s L. Tom Perry Special Collections, acquired this ledger and has made it available for study as part of the David Hale Family Papers. We have reproduced here a transcription of portions of the ledger for greater accessibility (see pages 108–12). In addition, a lengthier article that provides additional historical analysis, a provenance of the collection, and a transcription of all ledger entries made before or during Joseph Smith’s residency in Harmony is available online at https://byustudies.byu.edu/showTitle.aspx?title=9407.

David Hale

David Hale, the principal author of the ledger, was the second oldest of Isaac and Elizabeth Hale’s nine children. Born on March 6, 1794, in the same fifteen-by-thirty-foot log home where his sister Emma was born ten years later,2 David may have been particularly close to Emma, as is implied by Emma’s selection of the name David Hyrum for her last child—giving her son a middle name from Hyrum Smith, a close brother of her husband, and a first name from her own brother, David. When Emma wrote a letter to her family after more than a decade of no contact, she addressed it to her brother David.3

David was likely named after his father’s uncle David Ward, who had served with his father in the Revolutionary War. David Hale grew up on family land that began on the north bank of the Susquehanna River and ascended up the foot of Oquago Mountain. He joined the Methodist Episcopal congregation in 1811 at age seventeen. His seven-year-old sister, Emma, joined the same year.4 This experience may have been part of what induced a close relationship between the two. The following year, 1812, David was “drafted” (in his own words) into military service as war broke out with Great Britain.5 As privates, David and his older brother, Jesse Hale, along with their friend and neighbor Jonathan Treadwell, served as part of Luzerne County’s 129th Regiment and rode on rafts down the Susquehanna River, disembarking at the Danville docks, where they joined about a thousand men awaiting further orders.6 Danville was a major shipping point on the Susquehanna River. Boatmen lined up their rafts and barges to unload lumber, farm produce, meat, and other goods onto wagons that carried them to market in Philadelphia and elsewhere.7 It is likely that during this trip David was first introduced to the business of merchandizing and shipping.

The following March, David turned twenty-one and reached legal adult status. He did not immediately begin running his small country store in 1815, however, and although he was listed in the 1816 township tax records as an adult, he was the only man in his age group not taxed for an occupation.8 He still lived at home when the census enumerator in 1820 identified the Isaac Hale family’s business as commerce,9 but the enumerator had likely focused on Isaac’s meat-shipping business rather than the work of his sons.10 David learned to hunt with his father. He was the principal tracker when searching for the murderer of a local boatman, Oliver Harper,11 and his account book documents his continued work in dressing and preserving meat along with heavy involvement in leather production and the making of leather goods from wild animal skins.

In 1822, David began to run lumber downriver with his younger brother Isaac Ward Hale (known as Ward) during that spring’s high water runoff. Ward became a pilot of his own craft two years later.12 It is possible David learned some accounting practices on these trips while trading with urban merchants, and he certainly had access to better information about accounting practices in the major Philadelphia shipping markets than he would have in Harmony Township. David was elected as town constable that same year, a position he also held the following year in 1823.13

David’s earliest dated ledger entry was made August 31, 1824. This entry and a few others were for unpaid accounts carried over from an earlier, now lost, ledger, and confirm he was in business by that date but do not provide a beginning date for David’s mercantile activities. It is likely he started his store around the date of his earliest entry, however, since the twenty-nine-year-old David married eighteen-year-old Rhoda Jane Skinner in 1823, and they had their first child the following year. It was customary for a young man to show a means of making a living when he married, and David’s brothers followed this tradition.

David’s new wife was the oldest daughter of Jacob and Rhoda McDowell Skinner, who lived on a farm just a few hundred feet west of the Hale family. The Skinner and Hale extended families made up the principal customers of David’s store and were recorded in some of the earliest transactions. The tax records confirm that although the Hale family had moved into a substantial frame home by 1813, someone continued to occupy the original log home on the Hale farm for several decades. During the same years Isaac Hale was not taxed for the $10 log home, David was taxed for a $10 home, and he likely used the log home as his store for specific periods of time.14 Since his father was taxed for the log home in 1825, Isaac may have displaced David briefly and rented the residence to a work party headed by Josiah Stowell.15 David’s cousins later recalled a relative of Isaac’s being involved in these efforts. Although they remembered this relative as William Hale, Isaac did not have a relative named William Hale, and so it was likely the William Ward listed in the ledger, since Isaac was raised in the Ward family. David appears to have moved into Jesse Hale’s small frame home after Jesse moved across the river. But David was later displaced again when Joseph and Emma Smith occupied that home.

David’s ledger recorded few business transactions during April and May of each year, which was generally when boatmen took lumber down the flooding spring river to market. He likely continued some river running activities in addition to his other occupations. The ledger also indicates David hired others to assist him on his farm, and he kept track of some exchanges of goods, labor, or food products between other neighbors for a fee. His principal store products were the leather goods he made and sold locally, probably as a byproduct of his or his father’s hunting activities.

David’s store offered some shopping convenience for his neighbors because it was between the two small villages in the valley where the primary merchants had their stores. The largest of these villages was Lanesville—about three miles east of the Hale property, in Harmony Township—which was renamed Lanesboro in 1829. It included a small collection of businesses surrounding Martin Lane’s sawmill and gristmill operating at the eastern bend of the Susquehanna River. The store was run by George H. Noble, who had left the store of his father, Curtis Noble, in Unadilla, New York, and established his own in Lanesville.16 It was a large, well-financed store that Noble opened sometime between the tax assessments of December 3, 1827, and December 4, 1828.17 Since taverns often served as places of informal trading and occasional moving sales or estate auctions, the local public house may have also served as competition. In February 1828, Lanesville got Harmony Township’s first registered tavern when Charles Hatch was issued a license, which he renewed the following year.18

David Hale’s principal competition was not in Lanesville, however, but in Taylortown, a small hamlet that straddled the Harmony and Great Bend Township lines two miles west of the Hale property and known today as Hickory Grove. Taylortown had the only tavern in the valley for many years, and its store was closer to the Hale family than the Noble store in Lanesville.19 As the first tavern keeper, William Taylor had given the hamlet its name, but Almon Munson acquired the tavern by 1824, and he continued to pay his county license fee throughout the period Joseph Smith lived in the valley.20

In addition to the Munson tavern, a few other structures stood nearby, shaping the hamlet. Among them was a store owned by John McKinney.21 McKinney took over a sawmill from Jonathan Treadwell and John Harris on the river just east of the tavern sometime shortly before December 1, 1826.22 His store likely stood on the sawmill property across the road from the tavern.23 When the county merchants registered their stores on October 13, 1830, McKinney’s ranked as one of the larger stores in the region.24 It was about a mile closer to the Hale farm than was the Noble store, and, since the Hale family and their neighbors frequented the Munson tavern for business and social occasions,25 it was convenient for trading. David’s first notation in the front flyleaf of his ledger reads, “David Hales Book Bought of John McKinney Price $075.”

Farther to the west, as the river turned again to the north and entered New York State, the narrow mountain valley opened to accommodate rolling hills and a wider region that included additional small villages, most notably Great Bend village (within the larger Great Bend Township) and Hallstead. Although Emma and her brother Alva were baptized in the Hallstead Congregational Church as infants,26 these villages were far enough away that they were not convenient for most of the settlers in Harmony Township. Joseph Smith and other neighbors of David Hale likely did little trade with merchants so far west.

Joseph Smith’s Ledger Entries in Context

David Hale began this second ledger just a few weeks before his sister Emma married Joseph Smith and settled with her husband’s family in Manchester, New York. The newlyweds returned to the Susquehanna Valley during the hay and rye harvest when a neighbor, Peter Ingersoll, took them to see Emma’s parents in August 1827. It was during this trip, Ingersoll recalled, when Joseph and Emma agreed to move to Pennsylvania.27 Willard Chase, a neighbor of Joseph’s, remembered first learning about the plan to move to Pennsylvania just after Joseph returned to New York.28 While David’s ledger does not include any transactions from Joseph during this period, it documents the activities of his future neighbors during the month.

Just after Joseph announced his planned move to Pennsylvania, he and Emma went to a nearby hill to get the golden plates. Martin Harris, a prominent gentleman farmer in Palmyra Township, later reported he heard “about the first of October” from his brother Preserved ­Harris, who lived in Palmyra village, that Joseph had the plates, and Martin went into the village the following day, where it was the central topic of discussion.29 News spread a great distance quickly, and public interest in trying to get the plates increased with alarming intensity until Martin, as he later recalled, told Joseph “it was unsafe for him to remain.”30 Martin said he was the one who insisted Joseph go to his father-in-law’s farm in Pennsylvania. Since others suggest Joseph had already planned on moving there, it is likely Harris encouraged Joseph to leave earlier than he had initially planned rather than initiating the idea himself.31 This is supported by the arrival of Joseph and Emma in Pennsylvania a few months before the home they intended to occupy was available.

Martin recalled that Joseph sent a letter to his brother-in-law Alva Hale asking for help in moving.32 The letter must have been sent shortly after news circulated about the plates since Alva would have needed to begin traveling in early October to arrive in Manchester in late October with a horse-drawn farm wagon prepared to take Joseph and Emma to the Susquehanna Valley. When Alva arrived, he stayed with Joseph’s parents while the young couple made arrangements to leave. They still had debts to pay before their move. Joseph borrowed twenty-eight dollars from Lucy (Dolly) Harris, the wife of Martin Harris, which she had initially offered as a gift until Joseph insisted on signing a promissory note.33 It is probable that Lucy Harris used this debt to prevent Joseph from leaving somehow, which required he settle it, and he did not have the immediate means to pay it off. Not only were he and Emma poor in Joseph’s estimation, but persecution was so heavy he doubted they could change their circumstances.34 It was during the first weeks of October that Joseph had “gone away to work for Peter Ingersol[l] to get some flour,” which may have been an attempt to gather resources to move.35 Joseph also hoped Ingersoll would lend him some money to pay off his previous debts and transfer the debt to Ingersoll. “His brother-in-law had come to assist him in moving, but he himself was out of money. He wished to borrow the money of me,” Ingersoll recalled, “and he presented Mr. Hale as security.”36 Ingersoll refused. The fact Joseph was willing to create a new debt to pay off an established one suggests his previous debts encumbered his leaving for some reason and suggests the lender, most likely Lucy Harris, was trying to influence Joseph through their financial relationship.

Joseph and Alva Hale went to a public house to transact some business with the landlord. They may have intended to sell some of Joseph and Emma’s furniture, which was eventually moved to Harmony, since such sales were frequently held in taverns. This is where Martin Harris approached them and offered Joseph fifty dollars as a gift to cover current debts and provide money for the journey.37 Joseph at first refused the gift and offered to give Martin a note promising to pay him back. Alva Hale agreed to sign the note, too, willing to become a cosigner on Joseph’s loan. Martin, however, insisted on giving the money as a gift. Fifty dollars was at least thirty more than Joseph needed for his move to Pennsylvania, and Harris later recalled, “I advised Joseph that he must pay all his debts before starting. I paid them for him, and furnished him money for his journey.”38 This suggests there may have been sufficient money to pay the twenty-eight-dollar debt to Lucy Harris with about twenty dollars left over to cover travel expenses to Pennsylvania, a conclusion supported by Joseph’s business records with David Hale.

Martin then

advised him [Joseph] to take time enough to get ready, so that he might start a day or two in advance: for he would be mobbed if it was known when he started. We put the box of plates into a barrel about one-third full of beans and headed it up. I informed Mr. [Alva] Hale of the matter, and advised them to cut each a good cudgel and put into the wagon with them, which they did. It was understood that they were to start on Monday; but they started on Saturday night and got through safe.39

Alva was an elected constable in Harmony Township, Pennsylvania,40 and as the small company crossed the border into Pennsylvania, protecting his family from mob violence and the plates from ruffians would fit within his sworn duties to uphold the law. It appears, however, that he served as protector not just when they arrived into the township but along the way as well. Alva may have believed Joseph when told of the ancient record. His cousin Gehiel Lewis (known as Hiel) implied this was the case, remembering years later that “the Hales seemed, for a time, to be kept in awe by Smith’s statements, but that awe did not last long.”41 Hiel remembered that shortly after Alva’s return to the Susquehanna Valley he reported “the ‘Gold Bible’ was in a barrel of beans in his wagon, and that he (Hale) slept in his wagon to guard that barrel of beans and its treasure” during the journey.42

The wagon would have had a bonnet, a linseed oil–soaked canvas covering, to keep off the rain, but if Alva slept in the small goods-laden farm wagon with cudgel clasped in hand on the cold, wet fall nights, there would not have been room for Joseph and Emma. Emma, in her first trimester of pregnancy, likely slept in a tavern with Joseph during the journey, which would have been an additional drain on the travel funds.

Martin Harris, who lived at the point of departure, recalled with some uncertainty that Joseph and Emma left Manchester on the last Saturday in October or the first Saturday in November (October 27 or November 3).43 Joseph Knight Sr., who lived along the route of travel and was likely visited as the group went south, recalled Joseph left “sometime in November.”44 And Joseph Smith, focusing on the safe end of a long journey, recalled “I arrived at the house of my wife’s father in the month of December.”45 A stagecoach could make a typical journey of 135–40 miles in about four days during summer months.46 Travel by farm wagon when Alva Hale owned only a single horse would have taken longer. Even acknowledging Martin Harris was not sure exactly which Saturday marked their departure, however, and allowing for the possibility the group left as late as the second Saturday in November, it is clear the journey took longer than it would under normal conditions.47 Rain and snow hampered travel as did the cows Joseph and Emma had with them. They had one cow over four years old and a second about two years old.48 If these cows were well managed, they were pregnant, needing to be fed regularly, and there may have been young cows traveling as well. They would be easily injured if pushed too hard as they traveled. Even cattle drovers interested only in moving beef cattle to market usually traveled ten miles a day or less to avoid damaged hooves or other health problems, and on muddy or rainy days they might travel only one mile.49 When Joseph and Emma arrived in Harmony, their four-year-old cow was valued at ten dollars, when other cows in the valley were taxed at nine dollars. Even allowing for animosity from the tax collector, Emma’s brother Jesse, which is evident in the record, the cows still likely arrived in good condition after the long journey.50

In addition to the normal challenges of travel, Emma was also pregnant, which may have added to complications. Joseph Knight Sr. noted Emma “being onwell . . . wanted to go to her Fathers.”51 Emma was far enough along in her pregnancy that she knew of her condition, and her sixteen-year-old cousin Elizabeth Lewis came to help her immediately after her arrival in Harmony.52 During that time, women in general were seen as delicate and sensitive to strenuous travel, especially if pregnant. If a woman lived “unphysiologically,” Joseph and Emma’s contemporaries believed, which may include strenuous activities outside of the home, it could produce “weak and degenerate offspring.”53 If the young couple shared the beliefs of those around them, they would have been particularly careful while traveling as soon as they learned of Emma’s condition.

The combination of the need to provide good care for Alva’s horse and their cattle, poor weather conditions, and Emma feeling unwell as she traveled pregnant helps explain the slow rate of travel. Thus, while Martin Harris’s recollection that the group left the last Saturday in October or first Saturday in November seems unreasonable in the context of typical summer travel rates and the group’s documented arrival in December, Martin may have accurately remembered the beginning of their trip. A lengthy trip with high expenses would help explain Joseph’s lack of money beginning January 1828.

The group likely arrived the first week of December. Joseph’s brother-in-law Jesse Hale began an assessment of property taxes in Harmony Township for the coming year beginning on Monday, December 3, 1827. While he formally submitted the assessment on January 2, 1828, it was intended to reflect the makeup of the township on the initial assessment date and suggests Joseph and Emma had arrived by December 3.54 Jesse included Joseph Smith Jr. in his records as a permanent occupant of the village and taxed him for twenty dollars’ worth of property—a ten-dollar cow (four years old) and a ten-dollar rented house. Although Jesse could have ignored Joseph and Emma’s recent arrival and given them a complete year tax free, as if to defend himself for taxing them just as they arrived, he added a note to his record that they planned to live permanently in the area. Jesse wrote underneath Joseph’s name, “come to inhabit in this township since the last assessment.”55 Joseph had likely already been in the Susquehanna Valley for about a month before the David Hale ledger included its first entry under his name on January 1, 1828.

Joseph’s Earliest Transactions

A few weeks after Joseph arrived in Pennsylvania, he made his first recorded credit purchase on January 1, 1828. This suggests Martin ­Harris’s fifty-dollar gift was already spent. Joseph’s first purchase was for work by David Hale, who covered Joseph’s work mittens56 with new leather. While recording the purchase, David wrote “Joseph Smith” at the top of page 14 of his ledger in anticipation of future debits and at the top of page 15 in anticipation of future credits with the expectation the two would continue to do business over time.

Joseph could work in the winter cold better with the mittens as he began gathering supplies for his livestock and family, and they helped pay for themselves since the first credit to his account, entered on January 22, 1828, was the cost of the mittens for “drawing hay and wood” at 25 cents. Joseph worked for someone else “drawing” (hauling or pulling along) supplies rather than selling his own product, since those who sold their own materials were listed in David’s ledger in terms of number of cords of wood or pounds of hay sold (recorded by David as numbers of “cwt” or centum weight for each 100 pounds sold). Joseph’s employer was likely James Westfall, who purchased a pair of work mittens on the same day. Westfall was a local farmer on whose property Josiah Stowell and others had recently searched for a lost Spanish silver mine. Joseph may have already established a relationship with the Westfall family or other neighbors when he worked for ­Stowell.57 Westfall had an economic relationship with the Hale family and hired Emma’s brother-in-law Michael Morse a week later to work for him. Westfall also rented some of his property to David Hale, including possibly the land where the work party had looked for the lost mine.58

When David Hale entered Joseph’s name on pages 14 and 15 of his ledger, he followed his typical pattern of leaving large spaces to document regular transactions over a series of years, and Joseph’s name was initially followed by a blank section underneath for future business. Then David did something unique in his ledger. He added a new name beneath Joseph’s, leaving no room for additional transactions. Immediately underneath Joseph’s entry in the credit column David wrote the name of John Gillfeather and recorded the purchase from Gillfeather of a hoe for 75 cents on May 21, 1828. He also included Gillfeather’s name in the debit column but never sold him anything. The addition of Gillfeather’s name effectively ended Joseph’s account on May 21 and left no room for him to continue trading. The Gillfeather account was later crossed out with an “x” to indicate it was settled, but it was also deleted with a series of loops drawn across the credit entry and across John Gillfeather’s name on both pages (see illustrations on pages 108–9). Beneath the Gillfeather deletions Joseph Smith’s name was included again and his accounts began again with an August 8, 1828, entry.

This unique activity in Joseph’s account cannot be explained as a need for more space in the ledger. David had numerous empty pages in his ledger, where he continued to add names for decades. It was also not an attempt to clear out the names of former customers with which he no longer did business. David left the names of individuals in the ledger for decades after a single transaction. It was not a business decision that led David to put Gillfeather’s name on what had been Joseph’s account as though Joseph would no longer do business with him. The failure to leave room under Joseph’s name was clearly intentional. The addition of the Gillfeather account was a visual means of showing Joseph and David would no longer be trading together. Later, the Gillfeather account was scratched out, and on August 8–9, 1828, Joseph again began doing business with David and was added back in both the debit and credit columns when he purchased two days of work for $1.25 to help him get his hay gathered. The inclusion of the Gillfeather entry in May 1828 occurred the same month Alva Hale was replaced as a constable and Jesse Hale elected as an Overseer of the Poor.59 It was also the same month Joseph Smith and Martin Harris worked consistently on the translation of the Book of Mormon. While we do not know why David Hale added Gillfeather’s account on Joseph’s page, it visually indicated he would not be doing business with Joseph, and David had to later cross out and write over the Gillfeather account when he began trading with Joseph again in August. It suggests a shift in David and Joseph’s relationship during that time.

Translation and the Ledger

Joseph and Emma lived with Emma’s parents in the Susquehanna Valley from the time of their arrival in early December 1827 until February 1828. They agreed before moving to Pennsylvania that they would purchase a small frame home built in 1813 by Emma’s oldest brother, Jesse Hale, who had recently built a new home across the river. It is probable that at the urging of Martin Harris they had come to the valley sooner than planned, only to find David and Rhoda Jane Hale then living in the old home with their family. It took a few months for David to find a new place for his family, but Joseph did not wait for the move to begin his work. He recalled, “Immediately after my arrival there [in Pennsylvania] I commenced copying the characters of the plates. I copyed a considerable number of them and by means of the Urim and Thummin [sic] I translated some of them which I did between the time I arrived at the house of my wife’s father in the month of December and the February following.”60 His friend Joseph Knight Sr. recalled that during this early period Joseph did not work alone. “He now Began to be anxious to git them Translated he therefore with his wife Drew of the Caricters exactly like the ancient.”61 Knight noted Joseph was already strapped financially on his arrival. “Now when he Began to translate he was poor and was put to it for provisions and had no one to write for him But his wife and his wifes Brother [Reuben] would sometimes write a little for him through the winter. . . . The next Spring Came Martin Harris Down to pennsylvany to write for him.”62 Since Joseph mentioned he “translated some” during the period, this was likely concurrent with the “little” that Joseph Knight remembered Emma and her brother wrote as scribes.

Joseph recalled that Martin Harris arrived sometime in February, about the time he had moved into his own home, when Martin took a copy of the curious characters to show various scholars.63 After ­returning from his trip, Martin arranged his affairs in Palmyra, New York, and came to the Susquehanna Valley about April 12, when he began to assist Joseph in his translation efforts.64 The David Hale ledger includes a few business transactions with Joseph during the initial period when he “translated some”; but when David Hale included the Gillfeather entries in May, it effectively marked what David believed would be the end of their business together.

Martin continued to work as Joseph’s scribe from about April 12 until June 14. He wanted to show the manuscript to a few select individuals and asked Joseph if he could. Joseph initially denied the request, but Martin persisted until Joseph prayed on the subject. According to David Whitmer, “Harris wanted to take the manuscript home with him to show to his family and friends [first request]. To this Joseph demurred [first denial], but finally asked the Lord if Harris might be allowed to take it [second request]. The answer was ‘no.’ [Second denial.] Harris teased Joseph for a long time and finally persuaded him to ask the Lord a second time [third request], pledging himself to be responsible for its safe keeping. To this second inquiry the Lord told Joseph that Harris might take the manuscript, which he did.”65

After asking the Lord a second time, Joseph let Martin take a significant portion of the manuscript to show to a few select individuals.66 An epidemic raged through the narrow Susquehanna Valley at the time, and a number of local residents died, including Nancy Hale, the three-year-old daughter of Jesse and Mary (Polly) McKune Hale, who died in January. Joseph and Emma’s child died on June 15.67 Emma was also ill and Joseph attended her for a brief period68 until her mother could continue her care; then he traveled to his parents’ home to check on the manuscript, which he learned had been lost. Joseph’s mother, Lucy, later recalled that Joseph understood as he traveled north to check on Martin Harris that if Martin were to lose the manuscript pages it could well mean Joseph would lose the privilege of possessing the plates. He pondered, according to his mother, what would happen if Martin lost the manuscript and “the consequence which must ensue was inevitable that which was he would not be permitted to retain the plates.”69 Joseph learned that indeed the manuscript had been lost. He stayed with his father’s family for “a short season,” after which he returned to his own home in Pennsylvania.70 Joseph’s journey to and from the Manchester/Palmyra area would have taken several days if not as many as eight days of travel time. The length of travel time and Joseph’s brief stay at his parents’ home in Manchester would place Joseph back in the Susquehanna Valley sometime in late July or early August. David Hale’s ledger places him back in the valley at least by August 8, but his receipt of a revelation (D&C 3) before then places his arrival at sometime in the last days of July.71

According to his mother, Joseph told her that after he returned home the angel visited him and because he had “delivered the manuscript into the hands of a wicked man . . . he would of necessity suffer the consequence’s of his indiscretion that he must now give back the plates into the hands of the angel from [whom] he had received them but said he it may be if you are sufficiently humble and penitent that you will receive them again on the 22 september—”72 It was “soon after” his arrival home, his mother recalled, and probably during the same meeting with the angel that the Lord chastised Joseph Smith in a July 1828 revelation for allowing Martin Harris to lose part of the Book of Mormon manuscript. In the revelation, Joseph was also instructed “he will only cause thee to be afflicted for a season.”73 When Lucy’s history was originally edited for publication, her mention of Joseph losing the plates was edited out of the manuscript, leading some to believe she was incorrect on that point and that Joseph lost only the interpreters used to translate the plates. He was clear in his own accounts, however, that he lost both items.

“Immediately after my return home [to Harmony],” Joseph recalled, “I was walking out a little distance, when Behold the former heavenly messenger [Moroni] appeared and handed to me the Urim and Thummim again (for it had been taken from me in consequence of my having wearied the Lord in asking for the privilege of letting Martin Harris take the writings which he lost by transgression) and I enquired of the Lord through them.”74 Joseph later recalled because of his letting Martin Harris take the manuscript “the Plates was taken from me by the power of God and I was not able to obtain them for a season.”75 According to his mother, he was then told, “If you are very humble and penitent, it may be you will receive them again; if so, it will be on the twenty-second of next September.”76

These descriptions of an interruption in the translation process during the summer of 1828 were given many years after the events they recounted, and Joseph did not specifically define a date for resumption of translation in his own account, simply suggesting he did not “go immediately to translating” after his return to Pennsylvania, but he “went to laboring with my hands upon a small farm which I had purchased of my wife’s father, in order to provide for my family.”77 Nevertheless, David Hale’s ledger indirectly confirms Lucy’s chronology of events and suggests that decades later she was correctly describing the translation schedule as it occurred at the time.

The ledger records that on August 12, a few weeks after Joseph received the revelation now published as D&C 3, he bought a broad shovel, a pocket­book, and a pocketknife. In 1828, pocketbooks were typically used to hold deeds or other legal papers but were occasionally also used to hold other documents. Pocketknives were frequently used to cut pen tips on quills or scratch out inked mistakes on paper. When considered together with Joseph’s other transactions, his pocketbook and pocketknife suggest he possibly planned to do some writing. A broad shovel was a general flat nosed shovel useful in many farm tasks, from cleaning out stalls of manure to winnowing grain before storing it. It was not the ideal shovel for digging into the ground since a spade (with a pointed nose) worked much better for that purpose. Because Joseph began to dig a well shortly after purchasing the shovel, however, he may have purchased the broad shovel to serve a dual purpose of moving dug earth and farm labor.

Joseph may have begun digging a well by himself shortly after purchasing the shovel, but this was a task that, once it reached a depth of around four feet, required an additional laborer to help. Wells at the time were constructed by first digging a few feet before beginning to lay down stone lining the walls. The stone was then slowly lowered into the well on a circular shaped wood support with a hole in the center to allow digging (somewhat like a large wooden doughnut). One man dug underneath the support so that it slowly descended into the well, while another man stacked the stone and held it into place as it descended so the walls of the well were lined as they worked. While there was still a measure of risk in digging a well in this fashion—especially if the stone was not skillfully placed, the alternative, to dig the entire well and begin lining it with stone from the bottom up, would consistently create problems as large amounts of dirt could fall at any point along the well shaft down onto the digger and any change in weather would virtually guarantee an injury or worse.

The water table would be at its lowest by the end of August, which would assure when Joseph found water it would be accessible during most of the year. Joseph hired someone to assist him from September 8 to 13; they took a break on Sunday, September 14, then worked again from September 15 to 17. Since the ledger indicates Joseph hired someone to dig for the first five days and only work in a well for the remaining three days, it appears that someone else did the initial digging while Joseph started laying the initial courses of stone, which required more skill to build a stable foundation, and then he did the deeper digging while someone else continued to lay the stone, since the last portion of the digging required more skill to keep the wall stable as it descended.

The well was expensive but would have lessened Emma Smith’s workload significantly. While there was a spring at the bottom of a steep slope about a hundred yards behind the home, it would have been difficult to carry much water up the incline during each trip back to the house. Even simple tasks such as preparing cows for milking, cleaning up from fieldwork, or cooking meals would have required water. Major tasks such as doing laundry or making cheese would need a lot of water and require numerous trips up and down the hill to the spring. The well would have freed up more time for Emma to assist as a scribe. It appears Joseph expected her to fill this role again after Martin Harris lost the manuscript. The day after Joseph finished the well, he slaughtered farm animals to provide meat for the winter and sold 15½ pounds of pork to David Hale on September 18 for 81 cents. David initially wrote 75 cents cash but crossed it out and wrote 81 cents. Had Joseph been paid in cash, there would not have been a need to record the transaction, and so it is likely that David had offered Joseph the cash price for his meat and Joseph insisted on the slightly higher barter price. David credited Joseph’s account rather than paying him.

Joseph slaughtered his animals almost two months before his neighbors did theirs. Isaac Post, who lived in the nearby county seat at Montrose, noted in his journal spending most of November that year slaughtering cattle, pigs, and other animals and smoking their meat for winter use. Joseph’s childhood experience in Vermont would have been similar to that of a contemporary Vermonter, Hosea Beckley, who wrote of his neighbors how, “as winter closes in upon them, as is the case generally in December, they kill their pork and beef for the year.”78 The cold weather aided in helping preserve the meat as it properly cured, and the late date extended the opportunity to fatten the animals before slaughter.

Despite Joseph’s September preparations for winter, which brought in some income, his purchase of a few supplies and his digging of a well to make Emma’s workload noticeably lighter put him in significant debt for the first time since his arrival in the Susquehanna Valley. He would continue to work off those debts into the next spring. Thus, although Joseph noted, “it came to pass afte[r] much humility and affliction of Soul I obtained them [the plates] again,”79 he and Emma were likely not able to make much progress in the translation efforts. Joseph Knight Sr. recalled, “Now he Could not translate But little Being poor and nobody to write for him But his wife and she Could not do much and take Care of her house and he Being poor and no means to live But work.”80

The ledger confirms Knight’s memory as Joseph continued to work to support his family. Joseph was now in debt after he bought some materials in August and hired a laborer in September. Over the next few months he labored on numerous occasions working toward paying off his debts. On October 18, 1828, Joseph threshed buckwheat for a neighbor for half a day. He would also have harvested and processed his own buckwheat that month and likely spent the time preparing for winter. On October 24, he used his oxen to plow one of his neighbor’s fields for a day, and on November 5, he spent two days husking corn for a neighbor, both tasks he would also have needed to do for himself.

Since Joseph had spent a good portion of the planting season during the spring of 1828 translating the Book of Mormon with Martin Harris, he may not have had sufficient crops of his own to harvest that fall in preparation for winter. As the river froze, limiting fishing as a source of food, and winter made hunting harder and less productive, Joseph may have anticipated a difficult winter ahead. Joseph Knight recalled that Joseph and Emma “came up to see me the first of the winter 1828” seeking some help. Knight recalled his own “wife [who did not believe Joseph Smith was a prophet at the time] and familey [were] all against me about helping him” and Knight “Did not know what it mite amount to” if he were to make such a commitment, and so he offered very little to the young couple. He gave “some little provisions and some few things out of the Store apair of shoes and three Dollars in money to help him a Litle.”81 If Joseph and Emma needed supplies at the beginning of winter, their circumstances as the cold months progressed must have been desperate. The David Hale ledger indicates Joseph earned three dollars working for another person from December 1 to 4. The ledger also records a neighbor, Andrew Day, hired someone to work for him from December 1 to 4 for three dollars and one bit ($3.12½). Because the dates are identical matches, Day may have hired Joseph Smith on those days. In a credit transaction, the extra bit would have been David’s fee for putting it on his books. If Andrew Day hired him, Joseph chopped eight cords of wood and dressed two deer skins during the four days. Since Joseph was paid 75 cents a day, whatever work he did during December earned thirty percent more than an average day’s labor and required some skill or extra exertion.

Although the work Joseph did would have been sufficient to purchase enough of a staple such as beans or potatoes to last for a couple of months, the work listed in the ledger did not bring in additional supplies for the winter and no money apparently changed hands since it covered most of Joseph’s debts still on the books. Joseph was also likely doing work for others not recorded in the ledger, however, and doing the December jobs may have allowed him to feel comfortable in spending a little additional money: he hired someone on December 4 to help him fix his own well, paying him 50 cents—the going rate for an unskilled laborer. On the same day Joseph bought a comb from George H. Noble & Company in Lanesville, using David Hale to carry the transaction in his ledger.

Joseph worked for a half day on January 3 chopping wood and doing other tasks for 25 cents, which would cover the cost of the comb but not completely eradicate all of his debt. The wood chopping was likely that of cutting down trees. While the ground was frozen and the lumber could be easily moved over ice to the river, many local boatmen prepared to take lumber downriver with the spring floods. The Knight family did the same thing. Joseph Knight Sr. recalled, “In January [1829] his [Joseph’s] father and Samuel [his brother] Came from Manchester to my house when I was Buisey a Drawing Lumber[.] I told him they had traviled far enough I would go with my sley and take them Down [to Joseph’s house] to morrow[.] I went Down and found them well and the[y] were glad to see us . . . in the morning I gave the old man a half a Dollar and Joseph a little money to Buoy paper to translate I having But little with me.”82

It is not clear when Joseph Sr. returned to New York, but he was back home in Manchester before preparations for spring planting time in mid-March began, and he likely had left by the end of February. Samuel Harrison Smith stayed at Joseph’s through spring planting and helped Joseph get the work done on the property so Joseph could focus on translating the record. Emma and Samuel Harrison Smith, who went by “Harrison” in his youth (including in the David Hale ledger, page 15), both assisted Joseph as scribes. The ledger confirms that Harrison Smith stayed in Harmony and helped Joseph finally get out of debt to his brother-in-law. On March 20, Joseph spent half a day chopping trees for 25 cents while his brother worked for a day and a half for 81 cents. They must have also worked for someone else, since Joseph was able to pay off the last one dollar of debt in cash and settled his account.

The settlement of Joseph’s debts with David marked the end of their business relationship. Oliver Cowdery arrived a few weeks later, just in time to help make the first payment on Joseph and Emma’s farm on April 7, 1829.83 But Joseph and David never did business after Oliver’s arrival.

Editing Conventions

While David Hale continued to use his ledger for many years after he stopped doing business with Joseph, due to space considerations we have published only the pages dealing with Joseph Smith. We did not include text from the ledger that was added after 1829, but a brief description of that information is provided in brackets [ ]. Because placement of dates, places, numbers, and names carry significance in bookkeeping, this transcription standardizes the formatting of the ledger book. Hale occasionally finished some entries above the line due to space limitations. These have silently been brought inline, except in cases when the limitations of space in this publication prevent such standardization. When Hale wrote over a base text, braces with a slash have been employed (that is, “{original text\revised text}”). As discussed in the introduction, many of the entries were later canceled by Hale with a large X through the entire entry. These have not been represented typographically but in explanations in footnotes. When single lines have been canceled by a smaller X, these have been indicated with the use of angle brackets < >, which brackets also mean additions or insertions of text at a later time. When Hale used lines of any length to fill out the end of a line, these have been standardized to a single em dash (—). Hale at times supplied a horizontal rule to separate entries or lines within entries. These lines have been ignored, though blank lines have been silently added to separate all entries. Brackets [ ] are used to enclose clarifying information not part of the original text. Spelling has been kept as it appears in the original. Footnotes provide additional information about items and individuals readers may find unfamiliar. An illegible character is represented by ◊. The daybook is held at the L. Tom Perry Special Collections at Brigham Young University, and interested readers should consult the original for detailed analysis of this book. [Transcript is after the notes to the main article.]

Sidebar: Online Resources

The David Hale Ledger is housed at L. Tom Perry Special Collections, Harold B. Lee Library, Brigham Young University. The full document is available for viewing online at http://cdm15999.contentdm.oclc.org/cdm/ref/collection/SCMisc/id/75248. The Harmony, Pennsylvania, entries in the ledger date from 1827 to 1839, with notations carrying over business as early as 1824 and, after a move to Amboy, Illinois, continuing to 1869. The ledger contains 190 pages. Robin Scott Jensen has transcribed the ledger pages from the first pages of the ledger to page 27, which records transactions in December 1829. This transcription is found in a long version of this article, available at https://byustudies.byu.edu/showTitle.aspx?title=9407. The library staff will continue the transcription as time allows and will post the transcription on the library website.

The long version contains Robin Scott Jensen’s transcription of the ledger’s first twenty-seven pages along with extensive footnotes provided by Mark Lyman Staker on the items bartered and what they reveal about everyday life in the 1820s in early Pennsylvania. People traded carded wool, plow chains, barrels, foodstuffs, clothing, animals, and more for labor in chopping, plowing, and manufacturing work.

The long version also includes:

• More history of the Hale family.

• Discussion of the limited supply of money in the economy of the 1820s and how the store exchanges (a barter system) worked.

• The provenance of the store ledger.

• Description of travel conditions likely experienced by Joseph and Emma as they traveled with Alva Hale from Palmyra to Harmony.


David Hale Store Ledger, pages 14–15


1828 Joseph Smith Dr $ cts
Jan 1st to covering a pair of mittens with leather 251
John Gillfeather Dr. $ cts.
Joseph Smith
9th to two Days work in haying— 1 25
12 to one broad Shovel one Dollar— 1 00
to one pocket Book 5/6— 69
to one pocket Knife 5/6— 69
Sept 8
9 to five Days Diging in a well 3 75
15 10
16 11
17th 12 to three Days work in a well— 2 25
4 to one hair comb of G. Nobles2 2/- 25
to one Day fixing well &c— 503
1827 Nathaniel C Lewis Dr
31st to Balance on old Book 44 cents 0 44
1828 James Westfall Dr $ cnts
3 3{6\7} ½>
1st to leather to face a pair of mittens 0 12 ½
2 to carrying wool to machine and

Back again — 2/6

18th to carrying paying for carding of wool 8 Lb 32
Oct 1
3 to three Days and a half Diging
in a well 6/ per day— 2 62 ½
to Drawing two load of wood —    25
May the 7 AD 1830 <6 94 ½>4
1830 James Westfall Dr $
May 22
24th to Oxen and plow two Days — 1 00
to seed potatoes & planting & — 0 50
to paying road tax two Dollars — 2 005
Nov 24 to foddering Cattle &c — 25
Dec 1st
[Additional accounts dated 1833] [Additional accounts of Collings Dulling, dated 1845] [end of p. 14]
1828 Joseph Smith Cr $ [c]ts
22nd by Drawing hay and wood — 256
1828 John Gillfeather Cr. $ cts.
May 31st By one hoe seventy five cents 757
Joseph Smith Cr $ Cs
Sept By fifteen pound and a half of pork
18th By cash seventy five cents 75
             eighty one cents 81
Oct 18th By half a Day threshing Buckwheat 37 ½
24th By oxen one Day plowing &c— 50
Nov By two Days and a half husking corn 1 87-
Dec 1
3 By four Days work— 3 00
Jan 3 By half a Days work- chopping &c— 25
March 20th By one Day choping — 50
By Harrison one Day & a half 81
By cash one Dollar 1 008
1828 James Westfall Cr $ cts
29th By one dollar and twenty five cents
to Michael Morse 1 25
March By making a pair of shoes for
Anna Hale—9 50
6th By Sideing and Boards cullings 75
17th By two Bushel of patatoes 3/ per Bu 75
August 11th By pastureing Cows three months 3 19
Nov 11
Jan 6th By one Day Butchering fifty cents 50
6 {◊5\84}10
15th By one Day makeing fence — 0 50
By Damage Done by my hogs &c — 3 0011
[Additional accounts of James Westfall, dated 1832] [Additional accounts of Collings Dulling, dated 1845] [end of p. 15]

About the author(s)

Mark Lyman Staker is Lead Curator of Church Historic Sites at the Church History Department, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. He earned his PhD at the University of Florida. He has received both the Mormon History Association and John Whitmer Historical Association’s Best Book awards for Hearken O Ye People (Kofford Books, 2009). He received the Mormon History Association’s J. Talmage Jones Award of Excellence for an Outstanding Article for “Thou Art the Man: Newel K. Whitney in Ohio,” BYU Studies 42, no. 2 (2003): 74–138.

Robin Scott Jensen is Associate Managing Historian and Project Archivist for the Joseph Smith Papers Project and coedited the first two volumes in the Revelations and Translations series (published 2009 and 2011, respectively). He specializes in document and transcription analysis. In 2005, he earned an MA degree in American history from Brigham Young University, and in 2009 he earned a second MA in library and information science with an archival concentration from the University of Wisconsin–Milwaukee. He is now pursuing a PhD in history at the University of Utah. He completed training at the Institute for the Editing of Historical Documents in 2007. He has published several articles and edited documents, including “A Witness in England: Martin Harris and the Strangite Mission,” BYU Studies 44, no. 3 (2005): 78–98.


1. Isaac Hale, “Affidavit,” in Eber D. Howe, Mormonism Unvailed: or, a Faithful Account of That Singular Imposition and Delusion, from Its Rise to the Present Time (Painesville, Ohio: By the author, 1834), 264.

2. For further documentation of details about the Hale homes, property, and additional historical context, see forthcoming articles by Mark Lyman Staker in the journal Mormon Historical Studies.

3. Emma Hale Smith in Lorenzo D. Wasson letter, Nauvoo, Illinois, to David Hale, Independence P.O., Washington Co., Pennsylvania, 1841 February, Church History Library, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, Salt Lake City (hereafter cited as CHL).

4. Inez A. Kennedy, Recollections of the Pioneers of Lee County (Dixon, Ill.: By the author, 1893), 142; Mark H. Forscutt, “Commemorative Discourse on the Death of Mrs. Emma Bidamon,” Saints’ Herald, July 15, 1879, 209–17.

5. Kennedy, Recollections of the Pioneers of Lee County, 142.

6. Thomas Lynch Montgomery, ed., “Miscellaneous Muster and Pay Rolls, Ninth Division, 1812–1814,” Pennsylvania Archives, Sixth Series, vol. VII (Harrisburg, Pa.: Harrisburg Publishing, State Printer, 1907), 627–28; John B. Linn and Wm. H. Egle, eds., “Brigade Inspectors,” Pennsylvania Archives, Second Series, vol. 12 (Harrisburg, Pa.: Clarence M. Busch, State Printer, 1896), 6; “Muster Rolls of the Pennsylvania Volunteers in the War of 1812–1814, with Contemporary Papers and Documents,” vol. 1 (Harrisburg, Pa.: Lane S. Hart, State Printer and Binder, 1880), viii; Kennedy, Recollections of the Pioneers of Lee County, 142.

7. We are grateful to Helen Sis Hause, the local historian of Danville, Pennsylvania, who generously spent her time helping us understand the early history of that community and its influence on Hale family life.

8. David Hale, Tax Assessment, Harmony Township, 1816, Susquehanna County Courthouse, Montrose, Pennsylvania.

9. An individual of David Hale’s age range was listed in the Isaac Hale household for the year but may have been living elsewhere on the property. The following year, David Hale began renting property from James Westfall, but he apparently continued to live on his father’s land. Isaac Hale and James Westfall, Harmony Township, Pennsylvania, 1820 Census. See Mark L. Staker, “Isaac and Elizabeth Hale’s Pennsylvania Farm and Home: The Physical Setting for Some of Joseph Smith’s Most Influential Work,” Mormon Historical Studies, forthcoming.

10. Although the records do not clarify how the occupation of the household was determined, since the census records listed only the head of household by name, it is likely that it was the head of household’s occupation that was also listed.

11. Commonwealth v. Jason Treadwell, Susquehanna County Court of Oyer and Terminer, August 1824, Susquehanna County Courthouse. Mark Lyman Staker has transcriptions of official court documents connected to this trial on file and has placed copies with Betty Smith, director of the Susquehanna County Historical Society, Montrose, Pennsylvania.

12. Augustus B. Easton, ed., History of the Saint Croix Valley, 2 vols. (Chicago: H. C. Cooper, Jr. & Co., 1909), 2:1115; Commonwealth v. Jason Treadwell. David later hired others to do the raft work as he emphasized other trades. He noted in his ledger that he paid Alan Treadwell a dollar “for steering a raft from Marietta to Charleston” in May 1832. Marietta was a docking point in Lancaster County, Pennsylvania, where lumber was typically unloaded and taken overland to Philadelphia. Charleston was a village further upriver. His other brothers were also likely involved in river traffic: Reuben Hale’s son noted in his obituary, “Father came down the Alleghany and Ohio River on a pine log raft, landing at Steubenville, Jefferson County, Ohio, [and] settled on the Virginia side of the Ohio River.” Byron Hale, “Reuben Hale’s Obituary,” a copy of which is in Reuben Hale’s family Bible in the possession of a descendant in Aurora, Colorado; photocopy in the possession of Mark Lyman Staker.

13. See “Returned to the Court as Elected Township and Borough Officers for the Ensuing Year,” Harmony Township, Quarter Sessions Docket Book, Susquehanna County, vol. 2, 1821–24, “1822 Elected Officials,” pp. 73–74, “1823 Elected Officials,” pp. 114–15.

14. Harmony Township tax records, Susquehanna County Courthouse, Montrose, Pennsylvania, 1813–42.

15. See forthcoming articles by Mark Lyman Staker in Mormon Historical Studies for additional information on the Hale family homes and their history.

16. George Noble’s property was a half-acre lot that was worth two to three times more than an average home in the region, suggesting a good-size operation. George Noble later sued Joseph Smith in amical transaction to cover the cost of Joseph’s home, allowing Joseph to leave Harmony when he did. Joseph entered into a transaction with George Noble that appeared on David Hale’s books, showing he was doing business with Noble early on. It appears that Noble was helping Joseph, but we do not have his store ledger to study the relationship.

17. The tax assessment for “George H. Nobles” indicated he “came to live here [in Harmony Township] since the last assessment” when it was submitted on December 27, 1828. Harmony Township Tax Assessment, 1828 and 1829, Susquehanna County Courthouse. This means he arrived after the previous tax assessment was submitted on December 3, 1827. The daybook confirms Joseph Smith did business with Noble on December 4, 1828, documenting that Noble’s store had opened by that date.

18. “February 1828 Petitions to Keep a House of Public Entertainment,” Quarter Sessions Docket Book, Susquehanna County, vol. 3, 1824–32, 118, Susquehanna County Courthouse. Sylvanus Hatch operated the “Log Tavern” in the valley during the 1790s before official records were kept, apparently in the vicinity of the bend in the Susquehanna River, but little is known about that tavern other than a passing reference in a historical article published in the local newspaper. Emily C. Blackman, History of Susquehanna County, Pennsylvania (Philadelphia: Susquehanna County Historical Society and Free Library Association, 1873), 496. It was never legally registered as a tavern and apparently had only a brief existence.

19. Almon Munson was licensed to keep a house of public entertainment in the house where he resided in Great Bend Township during the August 1824 Session of the County Court, Quarter Sessions Docket, Susquehanna County, vol. 3, August 1824.

20. See Trial Notes, Commonwealth v. Jason Treadwell.

21. See John McKinney, Individual File, Susquehanna County Historical Society, Montrose, Pennsylvania. John McKinney (1791–1856) was a local Presbyterian merchant. John McKinney and Joseph McKune Jr. made the inventory of goods in the Isaac and Elizabeth Hale home on the death of Isaac Hale. See “Inventory & Valuation,” April 30, 1839, Isaac Hale Will and Probate Files, Susquehanna County Courthouse.

22. Tax Assessments, Harmony Township, 1825–26, Susquehanna County Courthouse.

23. The family that has lived in the Munson Tavern for six generations has had an oral tradition that a large store once stood across from the tavern on the south side of the road. Mary Parks, Personal Communication, August 13, 2009.

24. John McKinney, “Record of the Classification of the Merchants in Susquehanna County,” October 13, 1830, and April 15, 1831, Quarter Session Docket, Susquehanna County, 1831, 193.

25. See Trial Notes, Commonwealth v. Jason Treadwell.

26. See Register of Baptisms, First Presbyterian Church Records, Hallstead, p. 138, January 11, 1797, Susquehanna County Historical Society. When the entire volume was copied over into a new book during the Civil War, Emma’s baptismal record was copied underneath the baptism of her brother Alva and her own baptismal date was not included.

27. Peter Ingersoll, “Affidavit,” in Howe, Mormonism Unvailed, 232–37.

28. Willard Chase, “Affidavit,” in Howe, Mormonism Unvailed, 245.

29. Joel Tiffany, ed., “Mormonism,” Tiffany’s Monthly Devoted to the Investigation of the Science of Mind 5 (May 1859): 170. While Harris implies this was the first time he had heard about the plates, or the reporter misquoted him, it was more likely the first time he heard they were in Joseph’s possession. Joseph’s mother recalled her husband “mentioned [to Harris] the existence of the plates, some two or three years prior to their coming forth.” Lavina Fielding Anderson, ed., Lucy’s Book: A Critical Edition of Lucy Mack Smith’s Family Memoir (Salt Lake City: Signature Books, 2001), 394.

30. Tiffany, “Mormonism,” 170.

31. Tiffany, “Mormonism,” 170.

32. Tiffany, “Mormonism,” 170. Joseph’s mother also noted that “word had been sent to [Joseph’s father-in-law] that Jospeh [sic] desired to move there as soon as he could settle up his business.” Anderson, Lucy’s Book, 400.

33. Anderson, Lucy’s Book, 398–400.

34. Karen Lynn Davidson and others, eds., Histories, Volume 1: Joseph Smith Histories, 1832–1844, vol. 1 of the Histories series of The Joseph Smith Papers, ed. Dean C. Jessee, Ronald K. Esplin, and Richard Lyman Bushman (Salt Lake City: Church Historian’s Press, 2012), 238.

35. Tiffany, “Mormonism,” 169.

36. Ingersoll’s account is somewhat contradictory internally and when compared against other sources, and it cannot be taken as entirely accurate. Ingersoll claimed he refused to help Joseph because he did not have the money; he then noted in his account he told Joseph “in case he could obtain assistance from no other source, I would let him have some money,” thus claiming he really did have money to help. Then he said Joseph Smith played into Martin Harris’s vanity to get money and thus received a gift from Martin, even though Harris is clear in his own account that Joseph wanted to repay the money and it was Harris who insisted it was a gift. Tiffany, “Mormonism,” 170. Ingersoll claimed Joseph told him that he (Joseph) had deceived Martin Harris but still suggests he (Peter) was willing to loan Joseph the money if Harris had not given it. Ingersoll’s account is full of contradictions, but some of his details are supported by other sources, suggesting he is drawing from actual knowledge of events in some cases. Ingersoll, “Affidavit,” 236.

37. Tiffany, “Mormonism,” 170.

38. Tiffany, “Mormonism,” 170.

39. Tiffany, “Mormonism,” 170.

40. The position of town constable was an elected position, and Alva Hale was elected and duly sworn in as constable numerous times over the years. See “Returned to the Court as Elected Township and Burough [sic] Officers for the Ensuing Year,” Harmony Township, Quarter Sessions Docket Book, Susquehanna County, vol. 3, 1824–32, “1825 Elected Officials,” pp. 36–37, “1826 Elected Officials,” pp. 70–71, “1827 Elected Officials,” pp. 100–101. Alva was replaced as constable in May 1828, while Joseph Smith and Martin Harris were translating the Book of Mormon, see “1828 Elected Officials,” p. 122.

41. “Prophet Smith’s Family Relations,” Salt Lake Daily Tribune, October 17, 1879, 2.

42. “Prophet Smith’s Family Relations,” Salt Lake Daily Tribune, October 17, 1879, 2.

43. Tiffany, “Mormonism,” 170.

44. Joseph Knight Sr. recalled of Joseph that “some time in November he obtained fifty Dollars in money and hired a man to move him and his wife to Pensylvany to hir Fathers.” Joseph Knight Sr., “Manuscript of the History of Joseph Smith,” circa 1835–47, CHL. A transcription of this account is available in Dean C. Jessee, “Joseph Knight’s Recollection of Early Mormon History,” BYU Studies 17, no. 1 (1976): 29–39. Knight appears to have focused on the period the family traveled, while Harris’s mention of October as the month they traveled focused on the time he gave Joseph the money. And Joseph’s identification of December as the month he moved to Emma’s parents’ home focused on the month they arrived there. These conflicting dates can be reconciled by understanding those reporting the incidents were focusing on different parts of the journey.

45. Davidson and others, Histories, Volume 1, 240. When Joseph Smith stated in his 1832 history, “I obtained the plat[e]s—and the in December following we mooved to Susquehana,” he appears to have intended to give the month they arrived in Harmony rather than the month they left Manchester. Davidson and others, Histories, Volume 1, 15.

46. A traveler on the Susquehanna Turnpike using a stagecoach that exchanged horses every ten to twelve miles could get from Catskill to Ithaca, a distance of 160 miles, in four days and four nights. Lyman H. Gallagher, “The Catskill Turnpike in Stage Coach and Tavern Days,” Ithaca Journal-News, January 24, 1925, 8.

47. A stagecoach made such good time because the driver changed horses every fifteen miles along the road that went past the Hale home and every ten miles through Bainbridge and further north. When Peter Ingersoll took Joseph and Emma to Harmony earlier in the year (Ingersoll, “Affidavit,” 234–37), he recalled Joseph paid to the Ithaca turnpike gatekeeper the standard fee of one bit (12½ cents) for two oxen and a cart. The Catskill Turnpike gatekeeper at Ithaca was Hezekiah Watkins. Gallagher, “Catskill Turnpike in Stage Coach and Tavern Days,” 8. Oxen pulling carts traveled at about six miles per hour. But, unlike Ingersoll, who was hired to move Joseph’s family, Alva did not own oxen. He had a farm wagon and one horse valued in the tax records at less than most horses. Alva Hale, Tax Duplicates, Harmony Township, Susquehanna County, 1828, Susquehanna County Courthouse, Montrose, Penn. A single-horse-drawn wagon was comparatively small in turnpike terms such that a driver was charged only a six-cent fee, and it would have been strenuous for the horse to pull a loaded wagon by itself for many days in succession.

Alva and his group also encountered rainy days as they traveled. Wet weather and poor traveling conditions were widespread across the eastern seaboard that November. James Macauley, The Natural, Statistical, and Civil History of the State of New York, vol. 1 (New York: Gould and Banks, 1829), 407; Mr. Skinner, “Thermometrical Observations at Washington, Pennsylvania,” American Farmer 9, no. 45 (January 28, 1828): 360; “Pennsylvania Weather Records, 1644–1835,” Pennsylvania Magazine of History and Biography 15, no. 1 (1891): 120; Frederic Tudor, Diary, November 1827, Tudor Ice Company Collection, Baker Library, Harvard Business School, Boston, Mass.

48. Emma’s father, Isaac Hale, recalled she requested to retrieve her “cows,” but did not say how many she had. Isaac Hale, “Affidavit,” 264. Immediately after Joseph and Emma arrived in Harmony, they were assessed a tax on one cow. Joseph Smith Jr., Tax Duplicates, Harmony Township, Susquehanna County, 1828, Susquehanna County Courthouse. Only cows over four years old were taxed, and because Joseph was assessed for a second four-year-old cow two years later for the coming 1830 tax season, the “cows” Emma mentioned likely included at least one cow that was two or three years old. Emma may have had younger cows or calves as well that did not get assessed in the tax record because they were sold or eaten before reaching four years of age.

49. Mel Bashore, personal communication, December 14, 2012, detailed memo in author’s files. Bashore, author of the Mormon Trail database and a trail historian, has done an extensive study of the rate of travel for cattle in the mid-nineteenth century. His careful analysis of the records for cattle ­drovers in the 1849 Silas Richards Company, an 1850 California-bound gold rush company documented in the Thomas Christy Journal, the 1852 Higbee-Bay Company, and the 1859 Haight/Kesler Train, along with anecdotal data drawn from hundreds of trail journals, suggests the average speed of travel for cattle without sustaining injuries or creating significant feet problems was 9.5 miles per day during summer months. These drovers also expected to still lose a certain percentage of their cattle because of the fast rate of travel. This study is consistent with the experience of Benjamin Hayden, who traveled 223 miles one summer from Harford, Connecticut, to New Milford, Pennsylvania, near the Hale home using an ox-team-pulled cart and did so in twenty-eight days. Blackman, History of Susquehanna County, 145. Because Joseph and Emma traveled during the fall rains, they would have traveled at a slower rate.

50. Joseph Smith Jr., Tax Duplicates, 1828.

52. “Prophet Smith’s Family Relations,” Salt Lake Daily Tribune, October 17, 1879, 2.

53. Edward Pessen, Jacksonian America: Society, Personality, and Politics (Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 1985), 48.

54. Joseph Smith Jr., Tax Duplicates, 1828.

55. Joseph Smith Jr., Tax Duplicates, 1828.

56. Although “mitts” or, sometimes, “mittens” were also women’s high fashion fingerless gloves, the numerous entries in the Hale daybook were for mittens for men. Rebecca Beall, Clothing Curator at Old Sturbridge Village, has identified a pair of leather work gloves dating from the 1830s, but no known pair of leather work mittens from the first third of the nineteenth century has survived in America to suggest exactly how Joseph’s mittens may have looked. They were used widely, however, and account books from Palmyra, New York, confirm they were sold there as well. Entries in David Hale’s daybook suggest these mittens were initially knitted, probably with wool yarn, and then covered with leather to extend their life as they were used in harsh conditions that would wear them quickly otherwise. Rebecca Beall, personal communications with Mark Lyman Staker, October 7, 2012, and October 24, 2012.

57. Emily Blackman’s map of what she believed was Stowell employees’ digging activity shows locations that were on the farm owned by Jacob Israel Skinner when she published her book in 1873. Blackman, History of Susquehanna County, 581. This farm was owned by James Westfall when Stowell was active in the area and Joseph Smith moved to Harmony. Westfall had purchased it from Samuel and Mary Hodgdon of Philadelphia on April 21, 1823 (see Samuel Hodgdon and wife to James Westfall, Susquehanna County Deed Books, v. 23, p. 615–16, Susquehanna County Courthouse), and reaffirmed the purchase of the land through Timothy Pickering’s attorney on June 15, 1825 (see Timothy Pickering to Levi Westfall and James Westfall, Susquehanna County Deed Books, v. 5, p. 418–19). See also Israel Skinner and Wife to Joseph McKune, Susquehanna County Deed Books, v. 23, p. 616, and Levi Westfall and Wife to John Westfall, Susquehanna County Deed Books, v. 10, p. 318–19.

58. See forthcoming article by Mark Lyman Staker in Mormon Historical Studies.

59. “Returned to the Court as Elected Township and Burough [sic] Officers for the Ensuing Year,” Harmony Township, Quarter Sessions Docket Book, Susquehanna County, “1828 Elected Officials,” vol. 3, 1824–32, 122.

60. Davidson and others, Histories, Volume 1, 238, 240, deletions in the text silently omitted. This is the longest account Joseph gives of his experience copying the characters. In a subsequent, third draft of the account, he provides a shorter version but retains the sequence of arriving in Pennsylvania, copying the characters, translating some of them, and Martin Harris arriving “sometime in the month Feb.” (241). Joseph’s earlier chronology of events emphasizes copying and translating some characters after Martin Harris arrived. In 1832, he wrote, “[Martin] imediately came to Susquehannah and said the Lord had shown him that he must go to new York City some of the characters so we proceeded to coppy some of them and he took his Journy to the Eastern Cittys and to the Learned.” Davidson and others, Histories, Volume 1, 15. But this does not preclude the possibility that he also copied and translated characters before Harris arrived as he stated in his later accounts, or that he had done all of the copying work before Harris arrived, and he clarified this in more carefully produced later accounts. In his earliest account, Joseph emphasized Martin Harris’s role; in his later accounts he expanded the narrative to include further details of the experience.

62. Jessee, “Joseph Knight’s Recollection of Early Mormon History,” 35. Joseph Knight initially begins to tell about Oliver Cowdery’s arrival in Harmony, throwing off the chronology. He appears to be getting ahead of himself and returns to Martin Harris’s arrival in the next sentence and then continues to narrate events as he recalled them occurring, returning to Oliver Cowdery later in his narrative.

63. Richard E. Bennett, “‘Read This I Pray Thee’: Martin Harris and the Three Wise Men of the East,” Journal of Mormon History 36, no. 1 (2010): 178–216.

64. Davidson and others, Histories, Volume 1, 245.

65. David Whitmer Interview, “Mormonism,” originally published in the Kansas City Journal, June 1, 1881, reprinted in Lyndon W. Cook, ed., David Whitmer Interviews: A Restoration Witness (Orem, Utah: Grandin Book, 1991), 62–63.

66. Davidson and others, Histories, Volume 1, 15 n. 59, suggest the number of lost pages “may be a retrospective approximation” based on the fact the book of Mosiah in the printer’s manuscript of the Book of Mormon begins on page 117. Although Oliver Cowdery later sewed his pages into gatherings that had specific numbers of sheets that were easy to count, we do not know if Martin Harris did the same. It seems unlikely that the lost material would have included exactly the same number of pages as the material that replaced it.

67. Mark Staker, “A Comfort unto My Servant, Joseph,” in Women of Faith in the Latter Days, Volume One, 1775–1820, ed. Richard E. Turley Jr. and Brittany A. Chapman (Salt Lake City: Deseret Book, 2011), 357–58.

68. Lucy’s dating of these events is off by almost a month in her account. She notes that Martin Harris left with the manuscript “in july” (Anderson, Lucy’s Book, 411), then she suggests Emma delivered her child “Shortly after Mr. Harris left” (Anderson, Lucy’s Book, 412). She then suggests Joseph cared for Emma for two weeks after the delivery. “Mr. Harris had been absent nearly three weeks” when he began to worry about the loaned manuscript. Then, “in a few days” Emma mentioned the subject herself when Joseph “finally consented” to go to Manchester and “set out in the first stage that passed for Palmyra.” Anderson, Lucy’s Book, 412–13. This would place Joseph’s arrival in Manchester more than a month after the ledger confirms he was back in Harmony.

69. Anderson, Lucy’s Book, 414.

70. Davidson and others, Histories, Volume 1, 246.

71. Michael Hubbard MacKay and others, eds., Documents, Volume 1: July 1828–June 1831, vol. 1 of the Documents series of The Joseph Smith Papers, ed. Dean C. Jessee, Ronald K. Esplin, and Richard Lyman Bushman (Salt Lake City: Church Historian’s Press, 2013), 6.

72. Anderson, Lucy’s Book, 424.

73. Robin Scott Jensen, Robert J. Woodford, and Steven C. Harper, eds., Manuscript Revelation Books, facsimile edition, first volume of the Revelations and Translations series of The Joseph Smith Papers, ed. Dean C. Jessee, Ronald K. Esplin, and Richard Lyman Bushman (Salt Lake City: Church Historian’s Press, 2009), 9; MacKay and others, Documents, Volume 1, 6. While preparing this revelation for publication, after Joseph had shown he was able to continue faithful and complete the translation of the Book of Mormon, Sidney Rigdon edited the first phrase to read: “because of transgression if thou art not aware thou wilt fall.”

74. Davidson and others, Histories, Volume 1, 246.

75. Davidson and others, Histories, Volume 1, 16.

76. Anderson, Lucy’s Book, 424–25. Joseph’s mother suggested in her recollection of the experiences her son related to her that Moroni appeared only once and then took the Urim and Thummim until September. Joseph suggested in his own account that it was returned briefly to him a second time when he received parts of Doctrine and Covenants 10. Since later sources suggest Doctrine and Covenants 10 was received in April 1829, however, the timing and nature of a second visit by Moroni are unclear. See Davidson and others, Histories, Volume 1, 252–66. The entries in David Hale’s daybook, however, strongly suggest Joseph was aware by early August that he would begin translation again by the end of September.

77. Davidson and others, Histories, Volume 1, 266.

78. Hosea Beckley, The History of Vermont, with Descriptions, Physical and Topographical (Brattleboro, Vermont: George H. Salisbury, 1846), 164.

79. Davidson and others, Histories, Volume 1, 16.

83. See forthcoming articles in Mormon Historical Studies.

Transcript Notes

1. Entry canceled at a later date.

2. George H. Noble owned a store in Lanesville. It appears Joseph Smith purchased the comb from Noble but arranged his debt in such a way that it would be paid through David Hale, who owed Joseph money.

3. Entry canceled at a later date.

4. Entry canceled at a later date.

5. Entry canceled at a later date.

6. Entry canceled at a later date.

7. Entry canceled at a later date.

8. Entry canceled at a later date.

9. It is not clear who this is. The Hale family did not always use given names to refer to family members. Since David’s wife, Rhoda Skinner Hale, had the same name as her mother, this may refer to her.

10. Entry canceled to this point at a later date.

11. Remainder of entry canceled at a later date.


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