Joseph Smith Seer Stones: Don Bradley’s Insights into Joseph’s Translations (Part 2)

Todd Noall

Todd Noall

Source Expert

Todd Noall is an author and religious scholar at Mormonism Explained with a focus on the history and theology of religion.

Fact Checked by Kevin Prince

So why are people so confused about which stone was first? As far as I can see, Mark has no explanation for that. I do, however. So here’s my explanation. The Purple account of the finding of Joseph Smith seer stone says he feels prompted to go look at the neighbor girls, Sally Chase’s, stone and he sees a stone shining brighter and brighter till it’s as bright as the noonday sun. And he’s seeing the stone that’s off on the shores of Lake Erie. But he’s a teenager. His parents won’t let him go out to get it yet. So they make him wait a period of a couple or few years. Finally, he gets to go out and get it. We don’t know everything that’s happened during that interim when he’s waiting. What I would suggest is that what he sees in Sally Chase’s stone is his white stone out there waiting for him. It’s in the interim before he’s allowed to go out and get it he’s digging well from the Chase’s and he finds the brown stone. 

So in terms of the order of recovering the stones, Mark’s narrative is right. He gets the brown stone first, then he gets the white stone, then he gets the transparent interpreters. But that’s not the order he first becomes aware of them in. He becomes aware of the white stone first, but he’s only able to go get it later. So he gets the brown one first and then he gets that white one second. That would explain why everyone was confused about which is the first stone because the first one depends on what you mean, is it the first one he’s aware of or the first one he gets? So I can explain the spread of the evidence with this model, whereas I think the other model doesn’t. Also, I think that the sources, on the whole, outweigh for the white stone being the one that he goes out to get. 

So the one where I found the location, I mean, the brown seer stone would just be somewhere on the Chase property. I don’t know if we know enough to say where exactly, just wherever they were digging. The white stone, out by Lake Eerie, that’s what I’ve been looking for. and where I have not found the spot, but I found the landmark that sort of marks the spot, nearby. And the landmark is a mineral spring. Now, how all that evidence pieces together to identify that it’s mineral spring, that’s complicated, so that needs to be laid out fully in a paper but the basics of the location we find out from Deputy Purple in his account. So he says, like I previously mentioned, Joseph feels prompted to go look at this neighbor girl’s stone, he borrows her stone, he puts it in his hat, he looks and he sees a light that goes brighter, until it’s as bright as the noonday sun.
It says that he sees that it’s a stone that’s under the roots of a tree 150 miles away by the western border of the state of New York, and it’s up a stream that empties into Lake Erie. So he eventually travels out there and then he goes upstream about a mile. Now that actually gives us a good deal of information, because we know what the major road was that ran through the area. The major artery that ran westward in the northeastern United States ran 12 miles south of the Smith’s, through Canandaigua. And that’s the Buffalo Erie road. That’s absolutely the road he would have taken. So then we plot 150 miles and it takes us to basically Westfield, New York. Westfield, New York is just within several miles of the western border of the state of New York. There are a lot of creeks out there, but there’s a creek that runs right through Westfield that the road intersects with. And so if you go about a mile up that creek from the road, that’s the area that I’ve gone on pre-trips out to, looking for additional clues and so on, and that’s the area that he’s going to for the seer stone.

By Todd Noall, Source Expert

Todd Noall is an author and religious scholar at Mormonism Explained with a focus on the history and theology of religion.

Fact Checked by Mr. Kevin Prince, Source Expert

Kevin Prince is a religious scholar and host of the Gospel Learning Youtube channel. His channel has garnered over 41,000 subscribers and accumulated over 4.5 million views. Mr. Prince also created the Gospel Learning App, a reliable platform where individuals seeking truth can access trustworthy answers to religious questions from top educators worldwide.

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