Here’s a post from Deconstructor at RFM:
Smith once broke down and admitted he was a fraud
Testimony of Smith family neighbor and friend of Joseph Smith:
“In the month of August, 1827, I was hired by Joseph Smith, Jr. to go to Pennsylvania, to move his wife’s household furniture up to Manchester, where his wife then was.”
“When we arrived at Mr. Hale’s, in Harmony, Pa. from which place he 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 — pretend 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.”
“Joseph told me on his return, that he intended to keep the promise which he had made to his father-in-law; “but,” said he, “it will be hard for me, for they will all oppose, as they want me to look in the stone for them to dig money.” And in fact it was as he predicted. They urged him, day after day, to resume his old practice of looking in the stone.”
– Peter Ingersoll Affidavit, Palmyra, Wayne County. N. Y. Dec. 2, 1833, http://www.solomonspalding.com/docs2/1914Shk1.htm#pg016a
Isaac Hale, Joseph Smith’s father-in-law separately testified:
“Emma wrote to me inquiring whether she could have her property, consisting of clothing, furniture, cows, &c. I replied that her property was safe, and at her disposal. In short time they returned, bringing with them a Peter Ingersol[l], and subsequently came to the conclusion that they would move out, and resided upon a place near my residence.”
“Smith stated to me, that he had given up what he called “glass-looking,” and that he expected to work hard for a living, and was willing to do so.”
– Affidavit of Isaac Hale, given at Harmony Township, Susquehanna County, Pennsylvania on 20 March 1834, http://www.xmission.com/~research/about/docum3.htm
Watered-down version found in the Official History of the Church:
“Joseph secured the services of a neighbor, Peter Ingersoll, to assist and accompany him in acquiring Emma’s property. In August 1827, eight months after their marriage, Joseph and Emma returned with Ingersol to face Isaac. Ingersol reported that Isaac exclaimed 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 digging for money–pretend to see in a stone, and thus try to deceive people.”
“Yet on that visit there was an attempt to reconcile Joseph and his father-in-law, for an invitation was extended to Joseph and Emma to make their home in Harmony. Isaac, with evident paternal concern and with some compassion, indicated to Joseph that if he would move to Pennsylvania and work, giving up “his old practice of looking in the stone,” Isaac would assist him in getting into business. Isaac claims, “Smith stated to me he had given up what he called `glass-looking,’ and that he expected and was willing to work hard for a living.””
– History of the Church, Vol.1. Chapter 2, http://www.boap.org/LDS/History/HTMLHistory/v1c2history.html
In response to denials of Joseph Smith’s confession, Randy Jordan explains:
1. Mormon apologists saying that Ingersoll was an “aggrieved former neighbor of the Smiths” has no foundation in truth. Ingersoll’s attitude when swearing his affidavit was more of bemusement than bitterness over the way Smith transformed himself from a poor-man’s fortune-teller to a Biblical-style “prophet.”
2. Mormon apologist allegations that Hurlbut gathered his affidavits with “malicious intent” is moot because of the fact that the affidavits were sworn before justices of the peace, and the testators were legally responsible for their statements.
3. Ingersoll’s account of the confrontation between Smith and Isaac Hale is corroborated by Hale’s own affidavit. Also, Hale swore his affidavit at Harmony, Pennsylvania, and Ingersoll swore his at Manchester, NY (where he lived, some 80 miles away.) Mormon apologists cannot claim that the two affidavits were contaminated by the “malicious” Hurlbut, because Hurlbut never went to Harmony and never met Hale. But because they were sworn independently of each other, and yet corroborate each other, they are highly credible.
4. Ingersoll’s, Hale’s, and numerous other affidavits from Smith’s 1820’s acquaintances were published in Eber D. Howe’s 1834 “Mormonism Unveiled” (which can be read in full(which can be read in full on at http://solomonspalding.com/docs/1834howb.htm)
5. Ingersoll’s affidavit was quoted in the Official History of the Church. In addition to that, both Ingersoll’s and Hale’s affidavits were quoted in the February 2001 “Ensign” magazine,in an article dealing with Smith’s Pennsylvania experiences. (Read the article at http://www.lds.org.) Although the “Ensign” article is careful to not quote the parts of those affidavits telling of Smith’s “glass-looking” or his admission of fraud, the very fact that church apologists use those affidavits as credible historical sources negate any attempts to wholesale dismiss them as unreliable (in other words, “cherry-picking”.) Therefore, when Mormon apologists opinion that the affidavits have been “discredited at worst, not taken seriously at best,” perhaps the should tell that to the GAs and scholars who approve material for publication in the “Ensign.”
6. While Mormon apologists contend that Smith never outright admitted his fraud, or at least argue that that admission came via the hearsay testimony of Ingersoll, Hale, etc., the fact that Smith’s “peep-stoning” was a fraud is evidenced by the fact that Smith never found any buried treasures or anything else of value. Also, another instance of Smith’s admission of fraud is the account of his 1826 “glass-looking” trial at Bainbridge, where he admitted that his activity was a fraud, expressed contrition, and promised the judge to cease the activity—and yet, a mere 2 years later, he was claiming to translate the “golden plates” with the same “peep-stone in the hat” business he had used in his glass-looking scam, according to eyewitnesses such as Emma Smith, David Whitmer, and Joseph Knight. See http://www.irr.org/mit/divination.html
7. For decades, Mormon apologists have attempted to discredit the numerous affidavits concerning Smith’s 1820’s peep-stoning and money-digging activities by attacking Hurlbut or Howe’s motives or character—opining that Hurlbut “invented” the affidavits or “coached” the testators. However, that argument is negated by the fact that Hurlbut never even joined the Mormonite church until March 1833,in Ohio, and he didn’t travel to NY to interview Smith’s acquaintances until the following November. The reason that’s relevant is that many, many accounts of Smith’s peep-stoning, money-digging, occult activities, and details of how he produced his “Gold Bible” had been published by 1830-31, before Hurlbut or Howe were even factors in history.