Saturday, December 8, 2012


This article covers a highly controversial event said to have occurred in the LDS Church at a meeting in 1886—that of the appearance of the resurrected Joseph Smith and Jesus Christ to LDS President, John Taylor, who was hiding underground to avoid being sent to prison for the practice of polygamy. An amazing affidavit sworn by Lorin C. Woolley claimed that both Joseph Smith and Jesus Christ appeared at the meeting to validate the necessity of continuing polygamy despite Federal law or the eventual Manifesto that would forbid any more plural marriages in the church. Woolley's story of this event continues to be promulgated by Mormon Fundamentalists and serves as their justification to defy the law and continue the practice in secret.

First a couple of notes:

In the future, I will be alternating my blog articles between two subjects—Biblically-themed articles and Mormonism. While I would be content to focus on the former, viewers indicate that they still want to read about Mormonism; therefore, every other article will be on Mormonism with the in-between one on a Biblical or inspirational subject.

For those specifically visiting this site to read the article, “What Corner Do You Shine In?” click on October’s archives at the bottom of the right-hand column. I mention this because the response to this particular article has been overwhelming—two thousand plus viewers, and they’re still logging on to read it.


This article will cover the major highlights of the 1886 meeting and although it is somewhat longer than my usual articles, it is short compared to the material available and what I could have included. Despite its length, those interested in Mormonism will be glad for the material. Extensive footnotes are provided for those who wish to pursue the subject further.

If you are wondering how Mormons can believe Joseph Smith was resurrected in 1886, it is because they believe the resurrection has been continuously going on since Christ’s resurrection. How soon one is resurrected depends upon their righteousness and advancement in the spirit world. Thus, if Joseph Smith was God’s prophet, the belief that he could have been resurrected in 1886 presents no problem.

What this article will cover
  • The original revelation to Joseph Smith commanding plural marriage.
  • The manifestation to President Taylor of both Jesus Christ and Joseph Smith during the night prior to the 1886 meeting.
  • The 13-hour meeting the following day, and the appearance of the resurrected Joseph Smith.
  • Contradictions to Lorin C. Woolley’s affidavits.
  • Duplicity of LDS leaders by continuing plural marriage after the 1890 Manifesto.
  • Joseph Smith’s involvement in magic, the occult, the faculty of Second Sight, and how supernatural appearances occurred.
  • Second Sight, scrying, and the translation of the Book of Mormon gold plates.
  • Second Sight and heavenly manifestations at the Kirtland Temple dedication (along with plenty of wine).
  • Second Sight and how the 11 witnesses really “saw” the gold plates.
  • The tendency to embellish: Joseph Smith’s First Vision.
  • The tendency to embellish: Reception of the Aaronic priesthood from John the Baptist, and the Melchizedek priesthood from Peter, James and John.
  • Embellishment problems with Lorin C. Woolley’s’ 1912 and 1929 affidavits.
  • Did the attendees really “see” Joseph Smith at the 13-hour meeting?
  • Could Joseph Smith have been resurrected in 1886? 
  • Stories about Joseph Smith’s bones.
  • Where are his bones? The real clincher that determines whether Joseph Smith appeared in 1886 as a resurrected being or not. 
Before covering this much-touted meeting and Joseph Smith and Christ’s appearance, a little background will be necessary to understand how meaningful plural marriage is to today’s Mormons who still believe it will be practiced in the Millennium and in heaven, and also to the Fundamentalists who defy the law and continue to practice it today. How meaningful it is will indicate the lengths that some may take when relating a story which includes supernatural events. Included, out of necessity, in this background will be the 19th century mindset at the time of Joseph Smith that enabled visions and appearances of supernatural personages. It will explain not only his “revelations,” but the miraculously-claimed manifestations at the 1886 meeting. 

The original revelation to Joseph Smith commanding plural marriage

In 1843, Joseph Smith claimed he inquired of the Lord to ask how God justified the plural wives and concubines of Old Testament prophets. He said he received a revelation from Jesus, called the “New and Everlasting Covenant of Marriage,” which included the plurality of wives. Jesus explains to Smith that Moses, Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, David and Solomon, were commanded to take plural wives, and because they obeyed they now sit on thrones and are Gods. This can be found in Section 132 of the Doctrine and Covenants (hereinafter D&C) and can also be read at this link: 
For the sake of brevity—the revelation is loooong,66 verses—I will give only a few excerpts.
  1. Verily, thus saith the Lord unto you my servant Joseph, that inasmuch as you have inquired of my hand to know and understand wherein I, the Lord, justified my servants Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, as also Moses, David and Solomon, my servants, as touching the principle and doctrine of their having many wives and concubines.
  2. Behold, and lo, I am the Lord thy God, and will answer thee as touching this matter.
  3. Therefore, prepare thy heart to receive and obey the instructions which I am about to give unto you; for all those who have this law revealed unto them must obey the same.
  4. For behold, I reveal unto you a new and an everlasting covenant; and if ye abide not that covenant, then are ye damned; for no one can reject this covenant and be permitted to enter into my glory. (Emphasis mine)
To paraphrase the remaining verses, the revelation says:

  • The law of plural marriage was “instituted from before the foundation of the world.
  • Smith is “appointed” and given the Priesthood and the sealing keys to perform plural marriages (v.5).
  • Individuals whose marriages are not performed under Smith’s authority will not be married in heaven but will be “appointed angels in heaven, which angels are ministering servants, to minister for those who are worthy of a far more, and an exceeding, and an eternal weight of glory” (v. 16).
  • Those who obey will be rewarded with “a continuation of the seeds forever and ever” (v. 19); meaning, husbands and wives will be able to procreate and produce spirit children in heaven.
  • Those not entering plural marriage will remain single, never be exalted to Godhood, and never have spirit children (v. 17).
  • Smith is told to go and “do the works of Abraham; enter ye into my law and ye shall be saved.” (v. 32) 
The thrust of the revelation is that to be saved, not damned, and become a God, one must enter into plural marriage. (Fundamentalists refer to plural marriage as the "Principle," because it wasn't given as a "law.")

Those who are able to see through the fallacy of Mormonism, recognize that Smith conjured up the revelation to validate his promiscuous desires, regardless of his statements to others expressing his hesitancy to enter plural marriage and saying he was only doing it because an angel stood over him with a drawn sword threatening to kill him if he didn’t.(1) The accounts of his many concubines/wives, including taking other men’s wives while their husbands were still living, is evident in the historical record. (In some instances he asked a few men for their wives just to test their faith, but did not marry them.) One month before his death Smith had 33 documented wives, with the claim that he only had sex with 10.

The September 26, 1886 meeting (date of September is debated)
The story has been related down through the years, with heavy reliance upon the 1929 affidavit made 46 years after the event and signed by Lorin C. Woolley (hereinafter, Lorin), who was at the meeting. He also made an earlier affidavit in 1912, 26 years after the event, and both are inconsistent with each other and involve embellishments (exaggerations). Fundamentalists prefer the 1929 version because of its more sensational details. 

The manifestation of Christ and Joseph Smith during the night prior to the meeting

After the government banned polygamy, Mormon polygamists were hunted down by Federal Marshals. To avoid capture and being sent to the penitentiary, the men had to go into hiding. (Eventually, 1,300 Mormon men were convicted.) The LDS Church President at that time, John Taylor, was hiding in a farmhouse in Centerville, Utah. (My husband's aunt lived in this house for many years.)

According to Lorin, on September 26, 1886 a group of church men arrived at the house of John W. Woolley (Lorin’s father) in Centerville where President Taylor was in hiding. They showed him the proposed Manifesto that the church was being pressured to issue by the Federal government that would forbid any more plural marriages. If not signed, the government would eventually confiscate all church property in excess of $50,000 and dissolve the Church as a corporate entity. Further, it would allow wives to testify against their polygamous husbands and disinherit any children resulting from plural marriages. They asked Taylor to pray about it. He said he would and that he would make his decision the following day.

Lorin states that during the night before the meeting, he acted as bodyguard for Pres. Taylor and noticed a bright light coming from beneath President Taylor’s door and heard three men’s voices inside—two, besides Pres. Taylor’s. (His earlier, 1912 account states only one extra voice, identified as Joseph Smith). He recounts that he was upset because it was his duty to keep anyone from entering. He checked the door leading to Pres. Taylor’s room and it was bolted. He checked outside of the house and all the window screens were intact. He resumed his position inside the house, listened to the voices until about midnight, and asked Charles Birrell to sit with him. By the sound of the voices, he could tell that one of the men in Taylor’s room had left. The other stayed. He said:  
“I returned to my post and continued to hear the voices in that room. They were so
audible that although I did not see the parties, I could place their positions in the room
from the sound of their voices.” (This will prove significant later)
The next morning Pres. Taylor came out of his room. Lorin said that, “we could scarcely look at him on account of the brightness of his personage.” Lorin asked who the voices belonged to, and Pres. Taylor said “I had a very pleasant conversation all night with the Prophet Joseph.” When asked who the “other” man was, Pres. Taylor said, “Brother Lorin, that was your Lord.”(2)

Was Lorin Woolley actually President Taylor's body guard?
Statements in later Fundamentalist journals claim that prior to September 1886 Lorin was indeed a “regular” guard who guarded the President “constantly for many months.” However, the journals of Samuel Bateman and George Q. Cannon, who were actually present at the occasion, including President Taylor's own daily journal, do not list Lorin among the regular guards, saying that he only had menial duties at the house. Author, J. Max Anderson says: 
Woolley was carrying the mail, not guarding. According to contemporary records it seems that Lorin Woolley had no connection with President Taylor's party until after they arrived at John Woolley's home, and then his connection was in a very limited way. The claim, therefore, that he guarded President Taylor "almost constantly for many months" prior to September 1886 is without substantiation.(3) 
In the following months after the meeting, there were more than 9 journal entries by others that says Lorin continued to get the mail, as was his regular duty.

The 13-hour meeting the next morning and the appearance of the resurrected Joseph Smith
For clarification, it is not claimed that Jesus appeared at the meeting. He is only identified as the “other voice” in Pres. Taylor’s room during the night, along with Joseph Smith’s. At the 13-hour meeting, Lorin’s affidavit states that only Joseph Smith appeared.

In the morning, when President Taylor emerged from his room and supposedly told Lorin (according to his 1929 version) that one of the other voices he heard besides his own was Joseph Smith, the other was Jesus Christ, an 8-hour meeting was allegedly held after breakfast, followed by an additional 5 hour meeting, making a total of 13 hours altogether. Thirteen people attended this meeting. (See footnote #4 for list of attendees.) 

Lorin says: 
President Taylor called the meeting to order. He had the [proposed] manifesto, forbidding any more polygamy that had been prepared under the direction of George Q. Cannon, read over again. He then put each person under covenant that he or she would defend the principle of Celestial or Plural Marriage, and that they would consecrate their lives, liberty, and property to this end, and that they personally would sustain and uphold the principle.(5) 
Lorin begins his account by making a point to state: “By that time we were all filled with the Holy Ghost.” Note: This  may be a reference to the effects of consuming wine. Joseph Smith, when he was alive, sanctioned drinking alcohol at worship meetings and it was not unusual to have drunken hallucinations attributed to the Holy Ghost (covered later); therefore, how much more at a business meeting? (See “Alcohol & Mormon Temples: Getting Crunk (crazy-drunk) in the House of the Lord” by Shamdango (pen name). Full article at:
Lorin continues, describing a levitation phenomenon: 
President Taylor and those present occupied about three hours up to this time. After 
placing us under covenant, he placed his finger on the document [the proposed 
Manifesto], his person rising from the floor about a foot or eight inches, and with 
countenance animated by the Spirit of the Lord, and raising his right hand to the 
square, he said, "Sign that document; - never! I would suffer my right hand to be 
severed from my body first. Sanction it, - never! I would suffer my tongue to be torn 
from its roots in my mouth before I would sanction it!" 
During the eight hours we were together, and while President Taylor was talking to us, he frequently arose and stood above the floor, and his countenance and being were 
so enveloped by light and glory that it was difficult for us to look upon him.(6) (Emphasis mine) 
Note that there is no record of any prophet, ancient or modern, delivering a message while suspended in the air—not Moses; not even Jesus, except for his ascension.
Taylor talked for an hour, then wrote down a revelation he received on plural marriage where 
the Lord told him that He will never revoke the law of plural marriage and that it must be 
“Have I not given my word in great plainness on this subject? . . . I have not revoked 
this law nor will I for it is everlasting and those who will enter into my glory must obey 
the conditions thereof, even so, Amen.”(7) (See this endnote for the full revelation.) 
Taylor then set apart five men (Samuel Bateman, Charles H. Wilkins, George Q. Cannon, 
John W. Woolley and Lorin Woolley) with authority to perform plural marriages, placing them 
under covenant to “see to it that no year passed by without children being born in the principleof Plural Marriage. [These men] were given authority to ordain others if necessary to carry this work on, they in turn to be given authority to ordain others so that there should be no cessationin the work. . . .”(8)

Now comes the appearance of the resurrected Joseph Smith: 
 . . . [a]nd while doing so [ordaining the five men], the Prophet Joseph stood by 
directing the proceedings. Two of us had not met the Prophet Joseph in his mortal 
lifetime and we - Charles H. Wilkins and myself - were introduced to him and shook 
hands with him. (9) (Emphasis mine)  
Problem: Did this meeting even take place? 
According to statements and journal entries by those present, it is obvious that this lengthy 13-hour meeting did not take place.

Samuel Bateman’s Diary (1886-1909, Sept. 27, 1886) states:

The 27 [th]. All day at Do* [John W. Woolley home in Centerville], reading, pitching quoits [similar to horseshoes]. Helped load two loads of barley. At night went with the mail. Called at Sister B’s, met A. Burt, sheriff of Salt Lake County. Got back at two o’clock all right.(*Do = ditto, meaning "the same location," or the "Church President's hideout.")

Next, George Q. Cannon’s report of the day's activities:

Attended to our usual business. I am not well, but improving.(10)

The next day, September 27, 1886, L. John Nuttal, Secretary to President Taylor, recorded all the business activities that occurred. Try to squeeze in a 13-hour meeting on top of all this
President Cannon still improving in his health. The rest of the party all well. President Taylor signed several recommends. A letter was received from Elder F. D. Richards, enclosing one from Bro. E.W. Davis of the 17th Ward, City, in regard to his call as a missionary and needing help. Also gave his views in regard to those of the brethren who are in jeopardy, being sought after and sent on missions, etc. This letter was answered.

A letter was received from Bro. A. Miner dated Sept. 20th stating that he had perfected the re-incorporation of the Tooele Stake Corporation. . . . [Financial matters discussed.] A letter was received from Bro. Wm. M. Palmer at Council Bluffs September 22, 1886, giving an account of his labors to that time. A letter was received from Ellen Norwood Billingsly of Orderville. [Personal matters discussed]. . . .A letter was written to Elder Enoch Farr, President [of the] Sandwich Islands Mission in answer to his letter received September 7th. A letter was also sent to Bro. Thos. G. Webber of Z.C.M.I. [Financial matters discussed]. . . . A letter was written to President W. Woodruff in reply to his letter received September 25th, etc. 
President Taylor pitched quoits a while this morning, also in the afternoon. President Cannon in the house most all day; he sat out of doors awhile in the after part of the day.(11) 
Fundamentalists today, desperate to preserve the 1886 story, insist that any journal statements that make no mention of Taylor rising from the floor, or a resurrected Joseph Smith appearing, were purposely falsified by the writers to conceal the truth from those hostile to their cause, and that they deliberately got together so all their journals would jibe. 

But a 13 hour meeting would almost have been an impossibility, for it would not have allowed the time necessary for the five letters Secretary Nuttall says were received and answered, plus other business that was handled that day. The letters have been checked out. All of them were preserved in the senders’ letter files and corroborate Secretary Nuttall’s account of business transactions that day. Also, there is no mention in Nuttall's entries of any miraculous occurrence or appearance of Joseph Smith at any meeting (or Jesus Christ during the previous night to Pres. Taylor).

What about the ordination of the five men? Were they really ordained in that meeting to perform plural marriages? In the years following, Lorin's father, John Woolley never mentioned any 1886 ordination. He claimed he received his authority to perform plural marriages from Matthias F. Cowley in Salt Lake City, believing that the Church President (this was after Pres. Taylor's death) had authorized Cowley to tell him this.

Lorin is the only one of the alleged 5 men who claimed the ordinations happened. None of the other 4 left a testimony or written account of this happening, including Lorin's father. Neither did Charles Wilcken or George Q. Cannon. According to Fundamentalists today, it was because these men felt they needed to keep it a secret. But if they were supposed to keep it a secret, then why did Lorin feel free to spill the beans in his affidavits?

In later years, there were a few journal accounts by some who were supposedly in attendance but who only parroted Lorin’s widely dispersed 1929 version. They admitted that they did not personally remember the story as Lorin told it but went along with his account because they believed in him and wanted to support him (as well as validate the importance of plural marriage). Samuel Bateman also corroborated Lorin's story, but said he wasn't present when the 5 men were supposedly ordained. (How valid is a testimony if someone wasn't there?)

The reason these men couldn’t remember these supernatural occurrences was because (1) nothing out of the ordinary actually took place on September 26,1866, and (2) they may have been tipsy. (For journals that actually refute Lorin Woolley’s account, see this footnote.(12) 

An additional problem: If Pres. Taylor spent all night talking with Jesus and Joseph Smith and had no sleep for 8 hours, then went into an 8-hour meeting, followed by a 5-hour meeting, during which he also instructed and performed ordinances (13 straight hours of meetings, plus 8 hours of no sleep the previous night), how would a 78-year-old man have the stamina for this? Further, when would there have been time for him to conduct all the routine business of so many letters received and answered that Secretary Nuttall describes? How did he even have time or energy to play quoits?
Contradictions between Lorin C. Woolley’s affidavits
Lorin Woolley’s earlier, 1912 statement 26 years after the face states that he heard 
only one extra voice coming from President Taylor’s room. That person is identified 
as Joseph Smith.  
In the 1929 version (it gets better as the years roll on) Lorin includes two extra voices,
Jesus and Joseph Smith.  
To Lorin, plural marriage took high priority, so he added both Jesus Christ and Joseph Smith 
in the later 1929 account. Over time, it is not unusual for stories to become exaggerated. The
purpose? To emphasize a belief—especially in this case when something like exaltation to 
Godhood was at stake. It also served to bolster Fundamentalists who were living in defiance
of the law. 
Now, remember when Lorin said that when he was sitting outside President Taylor’s room
that night and heard the voices? He said, “They were so audible that although I did not see 
the parties, I could place their positions in the room from the sound of their voices.” One 
would assume that if he was sitting right by the wood door, he could hear exactly what was 
being said and would have given an account. But, none was ever given. This is a serious hole in his affidavit. What possible reason would there be for his not stating what he heard? 
There are two:
1. Lorin probably heard only President Taylor praying aloud.
2. If President Taylor came out of the room and actually did say, “I had a very pleasant conversation all night with the Prophet Joseph, and also with Jesus," then from President Taylor’s perspective he may simply have been stating that he had a Second Sight vision that took place in his mind (although real to him) where he had a conversation with them which, or course, Lorin would not have been able to hear. (There is no account, to my knowledge of an entry made by President Taylor as to this manifestation.)
By Lorin's adding the appearance of two personages, it gave an added significance to plural marriage, although a revelation to the mind was the usual method Mormon leaders received revelations, negating the need for any appearances.

Duplicity of LDS leaders by continuing plural marriage after the 1890 Manifesto
Belief in Joseph Smith as God’s prophet and in the revelation he received on plural 
marriage, and the desire to gain Godhood, made Fundamentalists defy the law after the 
Manifesto. This included church leaders:
President Wilford Woodruff (President Taylor’s successor who later issued the Manifesto)
continued to practice it. Prior to the Manifesto he had taken four wives but took more after the
Manifesto, one being Lydia Mountford in September 1897 on a steamship on the Pacific
Ocean. He later arranged for an Apostle to perform plural marriages on steamships so they
wouldn't be on U.S. soil when it was performed and thus not break U.S. law.(13) 
President Woodruff’s strategy as a “priesthood holder,” not as President of the “church,” used another loophole by also arranging plural marriages to be performed in Mexico.

On the day the Manifesto was accepted in October of 1890. He [Wilford Woodruff] personally approved 7 new plural marriages to be performed in Mexico. He also approved polygamous ceremonies for a couple of Mexican residents as early as 1891. He delegated George Q. Cannon, his first counselor, to give approval for plural marriages from 1892 to 1898 (after the Manifesto). That approval was in the form of written letters. In this way, President Woodruff himself could avoid personal knowledge. He could claim he had no personal knowledge of these authorized plural marriages.(14) 

Other church authorities also married post-Manifesto wives, with many arranging and performing plural marriages in secret.

After the manifesto, Joseph F. Smith, sixth President and Prophet of the LDS Church (served 1901-1918), cohabitated with his many wives and fathered eleven children. (Revealed publicly in the Reed Smoot Court Hearings of 1904-1907)

However, Pres. Woodruff declared that men would be justified in the Temple to enter plural marriage when having deceased women sealed to them. (sealing=marriage)

President Woodruff told a Temple meeting of the First Presidency and the Apostles in 1894 that due to the Manifesto, men "will be justified in concubinage by sacred vows," even without a polygamous ceremony in order to raise a righteous posterity." In 1894, President Woodruff gave his approval for Apostle Abraham H. Cannon to marry a new plural wife as a proxy for Apostle Cannon's deceased brother. And Apostle Cannon actually did this in 1896 while President Woodruff was still alive.(15) 

Court trials of church leaders and other members, however, eventually proved too much notoriety for the church, so it finally denounced plural marriage altogether and threatened excommunication of those who continued. Excommunication, however, would not apply to leaders who had an additional wife sealed to them in the temple after a previous wife died. They still anticipated plural marriage in heaven.(16)

The split The two factions (mainline church and those who continued to practice polygamy) separated, with those continuing polygamy called “Fundamentalists.” Mutual antagonism grew between the two groups because Fundamentalists claimed that they had the courage to live God’s revelation in spite of the U.S. Government, and the church buckled in cowardice. This antagonism continues today.

The temple ordinance of sealing multiple deceased women to a man is still performed today.

  • Joseph Fielding Smith, 10th President of the church (served 1970-1972) had three deceased wives sealed to him, and stated in his book, Doctrines of Salvation (Vol. 2, p. 67) that “my wives will be mine in eternity.” 
  • Harold B. Lee, 11th President (served 1972-1973) had additional wives sealed to him in the temple after his first wife died. 
  • Apostle Dallin H. Oaks (served 1972 to present) had an additional wife sealed to him in the temple after his first wife died. He also anticipates having both wives in heaven.(51)

  • Now, back to the time period of Joseph Smith. (Don’t worry, we’ll get back to the 1886 meeting.)

The following information is crucial in understanding the Mormon mentality that was handed down through the church, and which explains how supernatural visions occurred. This mentality is still alive in the LDS church today.

Joseph Smith's involvement in magic, the occult, the faculty of Second Sight, and how supernatural appearances occur
Now, we get to the nitty-gritty and the significance of of the superstitious milieu Joseph Smith and his family lived in the early 19th Century that predisposed a method of how people saw visions, specifically Smith’s appearances of God, Christ, Elijah, Elias, John the Baptist, Peter, James and John, angels, and other heavenly beings which will offer insight to the 1886 meeting. Smith also saw the spirit of Captain Kidd. He told W. R. Hine the following:

He [Smith] saw Captain Kidd [the pirate] sailing on the Susquehanna River during a freshet [heavy rain], and that he buried two pots of gold and silver. He claimed he saw writing cut on the rocks in an unknown language telling where Kidd buried it, and he translated it through his peepstone … [and] dug for Kidd’s money, on the west bank of the Susquehanna, half a mile from the river … Jo and his father were all the time telling of hidden things, lead, silver, and gold mines which he could see.(17)

Claims like this were readily accepted during those times because Joseph Smith’s environment was steeped in:

  • magic
  • the occult
  • use of divining rods to search for buried treasure
  • magic circles
  • animal sacrifice
  • witchcraft
  • soothsaying
  • peep stones
  • claim of seeing spirits who guarded buried treasures hidden in the hills, and
  • Second Sight
    (A form of extrasensory perception where information is received, not through the recognized physical senses but sensed with the mind, sometimes in the form of a vision. Also includes such psychic abilities such as telepathy, clairaudience, clairvoyance and precognition. “Second Sight” is enhanced and engaged in by individuals who focus on religion and spirituality.) 
Mormon historian, B.H. Roberts, acknowledged that Smith’s family believed in “fortune telling . . . warlocks and witches,” in that time period, and added, “to be credulous in such things was to be normal people.”(18)

An example comes from Joseph Smith’s mother, Lucy Mack Smith, who admitted that the family used the magic incantation of Abrac” (a Jewish Kabbalistic word which comes from Abracadabra and Abraxis, and often placed upon amulets to work magic). She said: 
Now I shall change my theme for the present. Let not the reader suppose that because I shall pursue another topic for a season, that we stopped our labor and went at trying to win the faculty of Abrac, drawing magic circles, or soothsaying, to the neglect of all kinds of business. We never during our lives suffered one important interest to swallow up every other obligation.(19) (Emphasis mine
For more detail on the subject of Smith’s involvement in magic and the occult, click on “Articles” on this site’s dashboard (or click the following links) and select Joseph Smith's Involvement with Magic,Masonry, and the Occult and Joseph's MagicHat: The real source of his revelations. See also

Joseph Smith’s entire family, including the local community, were enmeshed in this imaginative occult mentality, especially “Second Sight”—imagining things not visible to the natural eye. If one felt a spirit was present, their imaginative mind suggested it and it became very real to them. Joseph Smith convinced many of his supernatural gift.

Ezra Booth, an early convert said regarding Joseph’s Second Sight:

He does not pretend that he sees them [spirits and angels] with his natural, but with his spiritual eyes; and he says he can see them as well with his eyes shut, as with them open.(20)

Smith used the same Second Sight to claim he could see chambers within the Hill Cumorah and the plates. (stated in an 1844 sermon

Second Sight, “scrying,”  and the translation of the Book of Mormon gold plates

Smith’s use of Second Sight helped him produce a translation of the gold plates of the Book of Mormon. Actually, it was never really a “translation” because he never had the plates with him at the time. His mother and close friends all verified this. Instead, Smith would separate himself from his scribe by a curtain, look into a small rock called a seer or peep stone placed in a hat, and claim that hieroglyphics would miraculously appear. He would then dictate in English to his scribe who sat on the other side of the curtain, claiming he was translating.

Using a small rock in connection with Second Sight was a practice called “scrying” or “peeping,” a magical practice based on an ancient act of divination for the purpose of clairvoyance. (Crystal balls could also be used) In other words, Smith’s second-sighted imagination and divination produced a vision of some kind of ancient symbols (if at all), and he dictated forth his imaginative story of the Book of Mormon in English to his scribe.

However, all the Book of Mormon didn’t come from his imaginative Second Sight. He borrowed from other available sources:

  • He plagiarized his father’s dream and the tree of life in 1st and 2nd Nephi, passing them off as Lehi’s.
  • Incorporated sermons and the conversion steps used by eleven prominent Methodist preachers of his time.
  • Patterned King Benjamin’s farewell speech in Mosiah after Methodist, Bishop McKendry’s farewell discourse delivered on June 7, 1826 (one mile from Palmyra). One of the preachers in attendance was Benjamin G. Paddock. Plus, Smith copied other events and procedures used at that meeting
  • Used phrases and whole passages from the 1769 KJV, including its errors
  • Used anti-Masonry comparisons, and much more
    (See Chapter 6 of The Mormon Missionaries: An inside look at their real message and methods by Janis Hutchinson; see also footnote for Palmer, Chapter 4.)
Both Joseph Smith and Oliver Cowdery, using their imaginative Second Sight, claimed to see the personages of Jesus, Moses, Elias, Elijah, Moroni, John the Baptist, Peter, James and John, and the angels Michael, Gabriel and Raphael. (D&C 128:20-21) That is, they perceived them in their minds’ eye.

Something important to note is that Smith always described how he received his visions in the D&C as “the understanding of our minds were opened.” Most Mormons, when reading that gloss over it, not understanding that they were having a metaphysical experience.

We see examples in the Doctrine and Covenants where he and Oliver Cowdery "saw" Jesus, Moses, Elias and Elijah in their mind's eye:

The veil was taken from our minds, and the eyes of our understanding were opened. We saw the Lord . . .(D&C 110)

Section 76:12, 19:

By the power of the Spirit our eyes were opened and our understandings were enlightened, so as to see and understand the things of God. . . . And while we meditated upon these things, the Lord touched the eyes of our understandings and they were opened, and the glory of the Lord shone round about. (Emphasis mine)

When these accounts were placed in the D&C, they were made to sound as if these personages were truly present. In reality, Smith and Cowdery did not literally see them but “perceived” them in their mind’s eye. Similarly, when Smith's congregation claimed to discern “convoy after convoy of angels,” all with “the eyes of our understanding,” it was in their mind that they saw them. The psyche is a powerful thing.(21) (Emphasis mine)

Second Sight in the Kirtland Temple manifestations (and plenty of wine)
At the Kirtland Temple dedication, there were more visions by both the leaders and congregation, aided with the excessive use of alcohol (on an empty stomach after fasting for 24 hours). The use of wine by Smith was interpreted as necessary for the Holy Spirit to function. (See See also
Some fantastic tales are the events that transpired in 1836 before and during the dedication of the Kirland temple. Oh, there was prophesying, testifying, speaking in tongues, blessing and cursing, visions, angels, appearances by all kinds of characters including Elijah, Jesus, Adam, and Abraham. But the Mormon Church conveniently never discusses the fact that everyone arrived fasted – starving and thirsty. And how did they break the fast? With the Lord’s Supper, of course: bread and wine. Lots of wine.

William Harris gives us this account:
In the evening, they met for the endowment. The fast was then broken by eating light wheat bread, and drinking as much wine as they saw proper. Smith knew well how to infuse the spirit which they expected to receive; so he encouraged the brethren to drink freely, telling them that the wine was consecrated, and would not make them drunk..they began to prophecy, pronounce blessings upon their friends, and curses on their enemies. If I should be so unhappy as to go to the regions of the damned, I would never expect to hear language more awful, or more becoming the infernal pit, than was uttered that night.(22) (Emphasis mine)

Mrs. Alfred Morley made this comment in 1885:

I have heard many Mormons who attended the dedication, or endowment of the Temple, say that very many became drunk.... The Mormon leaders would stand up to prophesy and were so drunk they said they could not get it out, and would call for another drink. Over a barrel of liquor was used at the service.(23)

The Mormon Apostle George A. Smith also said that wine was used to excess at the Kirtland dedication:

...after the people had fasted all day, they sent out and got wine and bread,...they ate and drank,...some of the High Counsel of Missouri stepped into the stand, and, as righteous Noah did when he awoke from his wine, commenced to curse their enemies.(24)

It was reported, however, that they consumed a barrel of wine and other liquors at the dedication of the Temple, enabling some of them to see angels, have visions, prophesy and dream dreams.(25) (Emphasis mine)

Those who did not let their senses run wild, said there were no real manifestations, as did David Whitmer, one of the Three Witnesses, who wrote:

The great heavenly ‘visitation,’ which was alleged to have taken place in the temple at Kirtland, was a grand fizzle. The elders were assembled on the appointed day, which was promised would be a veritable day of Pentecost, but there was no visitation. No Peter, James and John; no Moses and Elias, put in an appearance. ‘I was in my seat on that occasion,’ says Mr. Whitmer, ‘and I know that the story sensationally circulated, and which is now on the records of the Utah Mormons as an actual happening, was nothing but a trumped up yarn…”(26) (Emphasis mine)

Apostle William E. McLellin concurred:

Apostle William E. McLellin said that no spiritual manifestations occurred at the Kirtland Temple dedication. McLellin contends that some of the Mormon men were not visionary but drunk, having imbibed too much wine on empty stomachs following a fast. In an 1872 letter to Joseph Smith III, McLellin wrote, “I took care of S. H. Smith [the prophet’s brother Samuel] in one of the stands, so deeply intoxicated that he could not nor did sense anything … he vomited the spit-box five times full, and his dear brother Carlos would empty it out of the window.”(27)

Second Sight and how the 11 witnesses of the gold plates really “saw” them

The eleven witnesses to the Book of Mormon testified that they “saw” the gold plates—but they really didn’t. They perceived them in a vision.

Martin Harris, one of the witnesses, admitted he never saw anything with his natural eyes. He stated:

I never saw the golden plates, only in a visionary or entranced state.(28)  He admitted the same to the printer who was working on the first edition of the Book of Mormon:

During the printing of the first edition of the Book of Mormon, he (Harris) was in the print shop while the type was being set for the testimony of the three witnesses. The printer, John Gilbert, asked him if he had seen the plates with his naked eye. “Martin looked down for an instant, raised his eyes up, and said, ‘No, I saw them with a spiritual eye.”(29)

Additionally, he told a Palmyra lawyer, who asked him: “Did you see the plates and the engravings upon them with your bodily eyes?” He responded:

I did not see them as I do that pencil-case, yet I saw them with the eye of faith; I saw them just as distinctly as I see anything around me - though at the time they were covered with a cloth.(30) (Emphasis mine)

Harris further let the cat out of the bag when he revealed that the other eight witnesses saw no plates either.

Joseph Smith knew that to see gold plates that didn’t exist would be a problem, so he used his best techniques to convince the witnesses. He used forceful mesmerizing methods to induce them to “see” the gold plates in a vision and, if they couldn’t see them yet, persisted in badgering them and playing upon their emotions by telling them that only the faithful could see them and that God was not allowing them to see the plates because they were “unworthy” and needed to “repent.” That kind of remark would intimidate the best of men and, with that kind of pressure, individuals will eventually see exactly what they are expected to see.
Smith’s coercion of the eight witnesses to produce a vision when no plates were actually present, was told to the Governor of Illinois, Thomas Ford, by more than one of Smith’s key men:

They [Smith’s men] told Ford that the witnesses were “set to continual prayer, and other spiritual exercises.” Then at last “he assembled them in a room, and produced a box which he said contained the precious treasure. The lid was opened; the witnesses peeped into it, but making no discovery, for the box was empty, they said, ‘Brother Joseph, we do not see the plates.’ The prophet answered them, ‘O ye of little faith!  How long will God bear with this wicked and perverse generation? Down on your knees, brethren, every one of you, and pray God for the forgiveness of your sins, and for a holy and living faith which cometh down from heaven.’ The disciples dropped to their knees, and began to pray in the fervency of their spirit, supplicating God for more than two hours with fanatical earnestness; at the end of which time, looking again into the box, they were now persuaded that they saw the plates.”(31) (Emphasis mine)

Author Fawn Brodie in her book, No Man Knows My History, says this makes the “witnesses” not conspirators but victims of Joseph’s unconscious but positive talent at hypnosis.”(32)

That they saw the plates with spiritual eyes instead of their natural, accounts for newspaper reports that said all three witnesses told different versions. If the plates really existed, it would not have been necessary for Smith to force the witnesses to pray until they conjured up a vision of plates in an empty box. If they were real, it certainly would have provided all eleven witnesses with a stronger testimony that Mormonism was indeed God’s work.

In view of the above, it is not surprising that all of the witnesses, with the exception of Smith’s father, his two brothers and two who died, left the church. Not very impressive.(33) 

The tendency to embellish (exaggerate): Joseph Smith’s First Vision

Joseph gradually embellished his account of the First Vision and his calling as prophet until it finally evolved into literal appearances of the resurrected Jesus and God the Father.
1829 account:       Joseph is called by the Spirit only
1832 account:       Angels appear
1834-35 diary:      Jesus appears
1838 account:       God the Father and Jesus appear

Of interest is the fact that Joseph Smith’s First vision does not even appear in the earliest publication of the Book of Commandments, predecessor to the Doctrine and Covenants.

One of the reasons for Smith’s embellishment, says Grant H. Palmer, former Mormon, church educator, seminary and Institute teacher and author of An Insider’s View of Mormon Origins, it “facilitated belief and bolstered Joseph’s and Oliver’s authority during a time of crisis” when Joseph and the church’s credibility was under serious attack. “Thus, by degrees, the accounts became more detailed and more miraculous.” (There were other embellishments in the First Vision between accounts, but won’t be covered here.)(34)

Another embellishment which evolved over time, is Smith’s account of his experience of going to the place where the gold plates were buried, and describing the spirit who guarded the treasure:
  • An amphibian that “looked some like a toad that rose up into a man.” (In occult books, the toad is associated with Satanism, witchcraft and sorcery.)(35)
  • A “bloody Spaniard ghost with a long beard,” who “had his ‘throat cut from ear to ear, and the blood streaming down.”(36)
  • An angel. From 1835 to 1838 Smith said it was "Moroni." In 1842 he changed his mind and decided that the messenger’s name should be "Nephi." His story, stated in the first edition of the Pearl of Great Price readsHe called me by name, and said unto me that he was a messenger sent from the presence of God to me, and that his name was Nephi."(37) (Emphasis mine)
  • Later, Mormon officials, embarrassed by Smith's inconsistencies, doctored both the History of the Church and the Pearl of Great Price to read "Moroni." 

Since the treasure’s guardian (whether amphibious-toad-morphed-into-man, Bloody Spaniard, Angel, Nephi, or Moroni) was conjured up in Smith’s mind through the “eyes of his understanding” instead of being an actual event, this explains why the story varied over time.

Down through the years, the mindset to see miraculous visions became the mainstay of Mormon mentality. The predisposition to see the deceased in the spirit world is also prevalent among today’s Mormons, thus opening them up to deception by false spirits.

Embellishment of the restoration of the Aaronic Priesthood from John the Baptist and the Melchizedek Priesthood from Peter, James and John.
Here is the progressive telling of it: 
Aaronic Priesthood
May 15, 1829            Joseph, while working on the Book of Mormon with Oliver Cowdery, receives God’s command through the “Urim and Thummin(special rock/seer stone) to be baptized. They go down to the Susquehana river and baptize each other. On the way back they run into Smith’s brother, Samuel, and also baptize him. (No angels or John the Baptist in this account.)
Although the records show that Smith’s 1829 story hadn’t evolved to angels yet, the LDS Church established May 15, 1829 as the date John the Baptist conferred the Aaronic Priesthood on Smith and Oliver Cowdery. (Oliver Cowdery, “History of the Rise of the Church of the Latter Day Saints,”(38)
1833-1834                “Angels” instruct them to be baptized.

Note: There is no mention in the 1833 Book of Commandments of the appearance of John the Baptist to ordain Joseph Smith to the Aaronic priesthood, nor was the Aaronic Priesthood even a part of the church in the beginning. It was at the later promptings of Sidney Rigdon that they decided to incorporate it into the church and the John-the-Baptist-account was retrofitted into the first edition of the 1835 Doctrine and Covenants. 
Also, “Accounts of angelic ordinations from John the Baptist are in none of the journals, diaries, letters, or printed matter until the mid-1830s.”(39) (Emphasis mine)

Joseph Smith’s eventual claim that he received the holy priesthood by the ministering of angels was motivated by the fact that he was facing a severe credibility issue that threatened the church’s survival. That is, no doubt, what motivated Oliver Cowdery to publish in the October issue of the Messenger and Advocate, a very dramatic version (see D&C 13) of how he and Joseph received the [Aaronic] priesthood from an unnamed angel:

 [T]he angel of God came down clothed with glory, and delivered the anxiously looked for message, and the keys of the Gospel of repentance! What joy! What wonder! What amazement! … [W]e were rapt in the vision of the Almighty! Where was room for doubt? No where: uncertainty had fled … [W]e received under his hand the holy priesthood, as he said, “Upon you my fellow servants in the name of the Messiah I confer the Priesthood of Aaron, which holds the keys of the ministering of angels, and of the gospel of repentance, and of baptism by immersion for the remission of sins; and this shall never be taken again from the earth, until the sons of Levi do offer again an offering unto the Lord in righteousness.” (Emphasis mine)

Later, the “angel” who transferred the Aaronic Priesthood to them was identified as John the Baptist.

In an 1885 statement, David Whitmer said that after conversing with Joseph and Oliver: “I do not believe that John the Baptist ever ordained Joseph and Oliver as stated and believed by some.”(40) 
Melchizedek Priesthood
June 1829            Joseph receives the word of the Lord that he should ordain Oliver Cowdery to be an Elder in the church and that Oliver should ordain him in return, but was postponed until more of the brethren could be assembled together. The ordination takes place April 1830. No claim of angelic appearances, or Peter James and John, mentioned yet.

1833                   Book of Commandments (predecessor to D&C). Still no mention of Priesthood restoration or Peter James and John.

1833/Sept.         D&C: vague reference to angels, Peter, James and John, and John the Baptist (D&C 27:12-13; 128:20) 
Problem: No early narrative exists, not even in the 1833 Book of Commandments, that states that Peter James and John ordained Joseph Smith to the Melchizedek priesthood. The church made a guesstimate of June 1829, July 1830 or June 1831, with the popular date being June 1829.(41) 

Gradually, the account of receiving both priesthoods evolved and Smith's embellishments were included. The authority to baptize, initially commanded only through the Urim and Thummin, changed to angels, then to a glorious and literal appearance of John the Baptist. Ordination to the Melchizedek Priesthood at the hands of Peter, James and John is referenced in the D&C, but sermons, as well as art work, depict the three in vivid terms.

Grant H. Palmer reiterates the embellishment and the metaphysical aspect of Smith and Cowdery’s supernatural accounts concerning the priesthood:

As in his accounts of an angel and the gold plates, Joseph was willing to expand on another foundational narrative. The events surrounding priesthood restoration were reinterpreted, one detail emphasized over another. A spiritually charged moment when participants felt that the veil between heaven and earth was thin became, in the retelling, an event with no veil at all.

The first stories about how Joseph received his authority show that, like other prophets and religious founders throughout history, he and Oliver first received their callings in a metaphysical way. Within a few years, their accounts became more impressive, unique, and physical. (Emphasis and paragraphing, mine)(42)

Now . . .  back to the 1886 meeting. 

Problem with Lorin C. Woolley’s 1912 and 1929 affidavits 

  • Lorin Woolley’s 1912 account states one extra voice in President Taylor’s room during the night (Joseph Smith). 
  • 1929 version is changed to include two extra voices (Jesus and the resurrected Joseph Smith). 
Any voice Lorin heard coming from President Taylor’s room (if at all), was more likely Taylor praying aloud. Lorin’s spiritually active imagination took off from there.

Recognizing the magical mileau of Joseph Smith’s day, with its acceptable practice of Second Sightimagining of things not visible to the natural eye, plus his tendency for embellishment—one can readily understand how this same mentality was carried down through the church and produced Lorin's creative account of the 1886 meeting.

Did the attendees really “see” Joseph Smith at the alleged 13 hour meeting
Steeped in the Second Sight mentality that “opened the eyes of one’s understanding,” all one of the attendees would have had to say was, “The prophet Joseph Smith is present,” and all would have been able to “see” him. Second Sight can conjure up whatever is desired. So, with their imaginative visionary minds—more so if wine had been consumed—this was possible. Also, a false spirit could have appeared as Joseph Smith, but that is another subject.

The appearance of Joseph Smith at the meeting was refuted years later by some of the attendees who said that although they didn’t actually remember any of the particulars stated in Lorin’s account, they agreed to corroborate it. 

George Earl, one of the attendees, however, went to great lengths to declare that nothing supernatural occurred. 
I am making this statement of my own free will and choice with no duress nor pressure from any person. And it is truthful and I hope will have a good effect. . . . In the late eighties I saw come to the Woolley home, and remain there for perhaps eight months the following, although all of them did not remain constantly there, the following, President John Taylor, George Q. Cannon, Joseph F. Smith, Angus Cannon, Joseph E. Taylor. I repeat, I ate with them, helped guard them, and knew all the routine that went on from day to day. . . . I have been approached during the past many years by scores of men endeavoring to secure my signature to a statement that I was at the meeting where President was purported to have stood in the air and delivered a powerful sermon upon a certain doctrine, and that heavenly messengers visited him, etc. Never did I see or hear any such things, and I doubt if anyone else did, but I hereby solemnly affirm that I saw nothing supernatural like that, nor heard such a sermon, and firmly believe it could not have escaped my observation had it occurred.

I am absolutely now the sole survivor who was present during those eight months, and feel it my duty to present these facts before the world, inasmuch as some aspersion has been cast upon my name by those seeking to subvert the truth. I always have had the feelings of the highest regard for all the Wooly (sic) family, and still do.(43)   
One would think that if those supernatural events actually occurred, George Earl would have said so, as well as others who attended the meeting but made no reference to anything supernatural in their journals. If it really happened, it should have been worth preserving for posterity.

Could Joseph Smith really have been resurrected in 1886?
Fundamentalists naturally want to believe Lorin’s account that Smith was resurrected, because if he wasn’t, the supernatural element of the 1886 meeting with Smith and Christ ratifying the imperative of continuing plural marriage in spite of the law, goes down the tube.

Technically, if one is to believe Lorin’s account, Smith would had to have been resurrected if they “shook hands.” Why? Because Mormons believe in a literal resurrection that includes the bones of the diseased. So, was he there, bones and all? 

Stories about Joseph Smith’s bones

Joseph Smith’s bones caused quite a stir after Brigham Young led the saints to the Great Basin—especially by Fundamentalists. Joseph W. Messer, Fundamentalist leader of the Short Creek community during the raid in the fifties, claimed that Lorin C. Woolley told him that Brigham Young, John Taylor, Wilford Woodruff and Joseph Smith had been resurrected and that Smith led the people to the Salt Lake mountains in 1847-1848. He stated again, “Joseph Smith, as a resurrected being, guided Brigham Young across the plains and led him to Utah. His remains were not brought to Utah by wagon as many have supposed.” (44)

But this conflicts with an actual statement by Lorin who said that both Joseph Smith and his brother Hyrum’s bodies were dug up, put in new caskets, brought to the Salt Lake Valley by Brigham Young and were buried in the Salt Lake temple grounds under the Joseph Smith and Hyrum monument.(45)

Fundamentalist, Robert Shrewsberry, confirms the Salt Lake burial in his journal, saying that Patriarch Harrison Sperry told Bro. Worth Kilgrow that Brigham Young, H.C. Kimball and Bro. Wilcox went back to the Mansion House at Nauvoo (Illinois) in 1848, dug up the bodies and brought them to Salt Lake in a sealed wagon. When it arrived, both Sperry and a few others saw the bodies lying in the casket.(46)

However, Brigham Young’s journal for 1848 doesn’t mention that he took a trip back to Nauvoo. During that time, he spent the early summer of 1848 at Winter Quarters before returning to Salt Lake City. Further, on March 15, 1857, Brigham set the record straight, stating that Smith was not yet resurrected. This was 10 years after they arrived in the Salt Lake Valley.(47)

President Joseph F. Smith also said that Smith’s body was still buried in Nauvoo and not Salt Lake City, and that it was a fallacy that Joseph and Hyrum’s bodies were brought to Salt Lake; also, that they were buried in Nauvoo and the grave remains undisturbed.(49)

None of the church authorities, prior to 1886, taught that Smith was resurrected. As early as 1880, Wilford Woodruff stated that Smith was not resurrected and was still only a spirit in heaven. How did he know this? Communication with the dead! He said that he had had communication with the deceased Smith in the spirit world, including Brigham Young, Heber C. Kimball and George Albert Smith, Jedediah M. Grant and others.(48) For Mormons, communicating with the dead is revered, considering their high focus on the spirit world and work for the dead.  

The real clincher that determines whether Joseph Smith appeared in 1886 as a resurrected being or not
The real crux of the matter comes down to knowing whether the bones of Smith were still in his casket in 1886. In 1928, the Reorganized Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints exhumed Joseph and Hyrum’s bodies.

Upon hearing about this, Mission President Samuel O. Bennion and three others drove to Nauvoo. The following is his report: 
Frederick M. (Smith, President of the Reorganized Church) took me upstairs where they were photographing and taking measurements of the skulls of Joseph and Hyrum. I could hardly keep the tears back when I saw these men handling these skulls like they were just common ordinary skulls and I said to Fred M., “Why don’t you let the bodies of these men rest where they were, it seemed a terrible thing to disturb their graves.” He answered me by saying that he wanted to find out if the graves of these men were down by what was called the Spring House and rather evasively avoided my question, but told me that he did not know exactly where they were buried and he wanted to find out.  . . . The lower jaw of Hyrum Smith is just as near like the pictures of Hyrum as it could be. His jaw was very large and was quite square especially at the chin compared with Joseph’s. Joseph’s jaw was more pointed, but Hyrum’s was a little more square all around than Joseph’s. These men must have been big because their lower jaws were extra large and strong.
The bullet that killed Hyrum entered into his face near the lower part of his nose on the right side and broke his upper jaw just above the teeth. The break shows very distinctly where the bullet entered the face, because the bone was broken and the bullet went in an upward direction right under the eye and came out on the other side of his head, just a little above his ear and toward the front.(50) 
I think that's pretty good proof that Joseph Smith was not resurrected. So, was that the only story Lorin embellished? 

The credibility of Lorin C. Woolley 
Fundamentalists in Lorin's day, as well as today, still revere him and believe he was truthful in his account of the 1886 meeting. They go through mental gymnastics making excuses for the inconsistencies about his story and insist that the reason those at the meeting did not write accounts about it in their journals was because they had to keep it secret. But Lorin sure didn't.  

As far as his credibility, here are other wild claims of his, taken from Brian C. Hales' book, Modern Polygamy and Mormon Fundamentalism: The generations after the Manifesto, chapters 1, 5 and 8.

  • He claimed he was personally acquainted with world leaders, including Mahatma Gandhi.
  • That he converted President Theodore Roosevelt to Mormonism and that Roosevelt received temple endowments at the hand of Joseph Smith and John Woolley (John Woolley made no mention of this).
  • He knew President Calvin Coolidge. He was ordained to the priesthood.
  • Also, knew FDR who, he claimed, said he was sympathetic to plural marriage.
  • He served as a spy for the Secret Service.
  • He and his father had the gold plates, Urim and Thummin, Sword of Laban, Ball of Lehi, and the seer stone, and they translated the sealed portion of the Book of Mormon, with the translation dictated to him by Joseph Smith and Moroni.
  • In 1897 he said that he saw the deceased Joseph Smith, Brigham Young and Heber C. Kimball at the Woolley's house. (His 1929 story doesn't mention Young or Kimball at all.)
  • When on his mission and sick, Jesus, the deceased Joseph Smith and John Taylor came to him and he received an immediate healing.
  • He received visitations from Moroni, Joseph Smith and Jesus (all 3, he said, had blue eyes; Jesus had light auburn hair).
  • Told of buried Nephite cities, one under the Great Salt Lake; the other under the Wasatch mountains.
  • Prophesied in 1932 that the Lord would come in 4 years to reorganize the Federal Government.
  • President Taylor laid hands on him and prophesied that he (Lorin) would be translated and wouldn't die until after the Millennium. Lorin died September 30, 1934.

  • The appearances to Joseph Smith and Oliver Cowdery of Jesus, angels and other beings were never real, but visions conjured up in the mind and perceived through Second Sight, with the help of one’s own spiritually-motivated psyche.
  • Joseph described how his visions came to him. He had “the eyes of his understanding opened.” It was all in his mind, including being ordained to the Aaronic and Melchizedek priesthood by John the Baptist and Peter, James and John, the stories of which evolved over time to become more sensational until they sounded like a literal appearance had occurred. This mentality was handed down through the church.
  • Lorin C. Woolley’s account is highly suspect. His 1912 affidavit (26 years after the meeting) says he heard the voice of only one extra person in President Taylor’s room, the resurrected Joseph Smith. (No Jesus Christ in that account). The voice he heard was probably that of Pres. Taylor praying aloud.
    Later, in his 1929 version (46 years after the fact), he no doubt felt it would sound better to add the Savior to the mix (believing as he did that Jesus certainly approved of plural marriage, since both Jesus and God the Father had wives). The addition of both Jesus and Joseph Smith would also give validation to the Fundamentalists who were continuing to defy the law by practicing polygamy.
  • Lorin certainly should have heard what the voices were saying inside President Taylor’s room, since he said they were so “audible,” but he reported no content of the conversations.
  • How could Pres. Taylor, a 78-year-old man, have the stamina to spend all night talking with Jesus and Joseph Smith with no sleep for 8 hours, then go  into an 8-hour meeting, followed by a 5-hour meeting, during which he also instructed and performed ordinances? (13 straight hours of meetings, plus 8 hours of no sleep the previous night) If the meeting started at 6 a.m. and ended at 7 p.m., when would there have been time for him to conduct all the routine business of so many letters received and answered that Secretary Nuttall describes? How did he even have the time or energy to play quoits?
  • In later years, there were a few signed statements signed by some who attended the meeting, but they only parroted Lorin’s widely dispersed 1929 version, at the same time admitting that they did not personally remember any supernatural elements Lorin described. They said they went along with his account because they believed in him and if he said it happened, it must have.
  • In 1949 George Earl, at the time the sole survivor of the 1886 meeting, went to great lengths to declare in an affidavit that he stayed at the Centerville home, ate with the men every day, helped guard them, and knew all the routine that went on from day to day, and absolutely nothing supernatural occurred.
  • President Taylor’s secretary, L. John Nuttal, recorded the activities of that day evidencing the impossibility of a 13-hour long meeting with supernatural manifestations. He indicated no resurrected Joseph Smith at the meeting, or Jesus Christ the night before; just business as usual, which included receiving and answering five letters which would have required President Taylor’s attention, all of which have been corroborated. Certainly, too much business to squeeze in on top of a 13 hour meeting, plus pitch quoits, and have Sam Bateman load two loads of barley.
  • Lorin C. Woolley’s story is simply false, exaggerated by his zeal for plural marriage. His spiritually active imagination took off and he pursued the same pattern that Joseph Smith and Oliver Cowdery set and embellished the story.
  • The final proof: The exhuming of Joseph Smith’s body in 1928 by the Reorganized Church proves that Smith was not a resurrected being prior to 1928, thus could not have appeared at the 1886 meeting in Centerville with a tangible hand to shake. 

Until next time!
(endnotes are below)

The next post will be in approximately 1 month. 



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2. Lynn L. Bishop, The 1886 Visitations of Jesus Christ and Joseph Smith to John Taylor: The Centerville meetings. (Latter Day Publications, Salt Lake City, 1998, p. 17-20)

4.  Lorin C. Woolley
John W. Woolley (Lorin’s father)
Pres. John Taylor
George Q. Cannon
L. John Nuttal (Pres. Taylor’s secretary)
Samuel Bateman
Daniel R. Bateman
Charles H. Wilcken
Charles Birrell
Bishop Samuel Sedden
George Earl
Julia E. Woolley (Lorin’s mother)
Amy Woolley (Lorin’s sister)

7.  Revelation given to President John Taylor at the 1886 Centerville meeting on Sept. 27 1886, from Bishop, op cit, p. 15: 
My son John: You have asked me concerning the New and Everlasting Covenant
and how far it is binding upon my people.   
Thus saith the Lord: All commandments that I give must be obeyed by those
calling themselves by my name unless they are revoked by me or by my
authority, and how can I revoke an everlasting covenant; for I the Lord am
everlasting and my everlasting covenants cannot be abrogated nor done away
with ; but they stand forever. 
Have I not given my word in great plainness on this subject? Yet have not great
numbers of my people been negligent in the observance of my law and the
keeping of my commandment, and yet I have borne with them these many years
because of the perilous times. And furthermore it is pleasing to me that men should use their free agency in these matters. 
Nevertheless I the Lord do not change and my word and my covenants and my
law do not. And as I have heretofore said by my servant Joseph: All those who
would enter into my glory must and shall obey my law. And have I not
commanded men that if they were Abraham's seed and would enter into my glory
they must do the works of Abraham.  
I have not revoked this law nor will I for it is everlasting and those who will enter
into my glory must obey the conditions thereof, even so, Amen. 
10. George Q. Cannon Journal, September 27, 1886, cited at 

11. The President’s Office Journal, September 27, 1886, cited in Smaller paragraphing from the original was used for the sake of space.






17. Statement of W.R. Hine in Deming, Naked Truths 1 (Jan.1888): 2. Cited in An Insider’s View of Mormon Origins by Grant H. Palmer (Signature Books, SLC, 2002) p. 188. (Hereinafter, Palmer)

18. LDS Historian, B.H. Roberts, A Comprehensive History of the Church, 6 vols., 1930, v. 1, pp 26-27.

19. Jerald and Sandra Tanner, Mormonism, Magic and Masonry (SLC, Lighthouse Ministry,
1983), 20.) Lucy Mack Smith’s statement also appears on page 77 of the preliminary draft of her history which is located in the Historical Department of the LDS Church.

20. Ezra Booth to Presiding Elder, 8 Nov. 1831, in E.D. Howe, Mormonism Unvailed
(Painesville, OH: by the Author, 1834), 186. Cited in Palmer, Op cit.

21. Sylvester Smith, quoted by Jedediah M. Grant, 28 June 1854, Journal of Discourses, 26 vols. (London and Liverpool: Latter-day Saints Book Depot, 1854-86), 6:254. Cited in Palmer, op cit., p. 176.

22. The Absurdities of  Mormonism Portrayed, pp. 31-32) by Oliver H. Olney. From “Alcohol & Mormon Temples: Getting Crunk in the House of the Lord” by “Shamdango” (author’s pen name). “Crunk” means “crazy- drunk.” Cited at

23. Naked Truths About Mormonism, Oakland, California, April 1888, p. 2.

24. Journal of Discourses, Vol. 2, page 216.

25. Pioneer and Personal Reminisces, 1893, pg. 26 by Christopher G. Crary. Cited at the old (this URL can only be reached by googling: “Mormon they consumed a barrel of wine,” and then finding the entry from MormonThink and clicking on it.

26. The Des Moines Daily News, Oct. 16, 1886. Cited at

27. William McLellin Papers, 1854-1880. Cited at

28. David Persuitte, Joseph Smith and the Origins of the Book of Mormon (McFarland & Co. Pub., Jefferson, NC) 2nd Ed. 1991, p. 97.
29. Persuitte, p. 96. His quote is from Wilford C. Wood, Joseph Smith Begins His work, Vol. 1, forepart, “Memorandum made by John H. Gilbert, Esq.”

30. Interview with Ole Jensen in Clarkston, Utah, published in J.M. Sjodahl: Introduction to 
the Study of the Book of Mormon, pp 58-60, as quoted in Fawn Brodie’s No Man Knows My
History, (2nd Ed. NY, Alfred A. Knopf, 1971), 78. (hereinafter, Brodie.)

31. History of Illinois (Chicago, 1854), 257. (Italics mine.)  Cited in  Brodie, op cit, 79-80.
32. Brodie, op cit.,77.

33. In David Whitmer’s Address to All Believers in Christ; he stated: “All of the eight witnesses who were then living (except the three Smiths) came out [of the LDS Church]. Peter and 
Christian Whitmer were dead. Oliver Cowdery came out also.” (1887, pp 27-28) Cited in 
Marvin W. Cowan’s Mormon Claims Answered (Marvin W. Cowan, 1989), 57. See also,

34. Palmer, op cit., 228-229

35. Benjamin Saunders interview, Sept. 1884, 30, fd 44, box 2, pp. 22-23, "Miscellany 1795-1948," RLDS library-archives). Cited at

36. Historical Magazine 7, May 1870, 306-307). Cited at

37. Joseph Smith, Times and Seasons, Vol. 3, April 15, 1842, p. 753; Joseph Smith, Pearl
of Great Price, Liverpool, Eng., F. D. Richards, 1851, p. 41.

38. Latter Day Saints’ Messenger and Advocate 1 (Oct. 1834): 15-16; quoted in Vogel, Early Mormon Documents, 2:420-21. Cited in Palmer, op cit., p. 226-7, and fn 26.

39. Palmer, op cit., 223-224 fn 16.) Citing LaMar Petersen, Problems in Mormon Text (Salt Lake City: by the Author, 1957), 8.

40. David Whitmer, interview by Zenas H. Gurley, Jr., an apostle in the RLDS church, 14 Jan. 1885, typescript, LDS archives. See Edward Stevenson Journal, 9 Feb. 1886, cited in
Joseph Grant Stevenson, Stevenson Family History (Provo, UT: by the Author, 1955), 1:177-78. Cited in Palmer, op cit., p. 224, fn 17.

41. Palmer, op cit., p. 230

42. Palmer, op cit., 232

43. Statement of George Earl, August 2, 1949 at Centerville, Utah, Church Archives, Salt Lake City. Cited at “The Polygamy Story: Fiction and Fact by J. Max Anderson. 
44. Joseph Musser Journal, April 23, 1930. See also “Book of Remembrance of Joseph W. Musser, p. 2. Cited at

45. Mark J. Baird and Rhea A. Baird, Reminiscences of John W. Woolley and Lorin C. Wooley, Vol. 3, p. 25. Cited at Also, Modern Polygamy and Mormon Fundamentalism: The generations after the Manifesto by Brian C. Hales (Greg Kofford Books, Inc., Salt Lake 2006) Chapter 8 (ebook).

46. Rhea Allred Baird and Mark Baird, Reminiscences of John W. Woolley and Lorin C. Woolley, Vol. 3, pp. 26-27. Cited at

47. Documentary History of the Church 7:256. Cited at

48. Journal of Discourses 21:317-18. Cited at

49. Joseph F. Smith Letter File, 1904. Church Archives, Salt Lake City; see also First Presidency Decisions, 2:28, Church Archives. Cited at

50. Samuel O. Bennion to Heber J. Grant, January 21, 1928, Church Archives, Salt Lake City. Cited at


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