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How did Joseph Smith obtain the brown Seer Stone?

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

Kevin Prince

Source Expert

Kevin Prince serves as the Source Authority at Mormonism Explained. Mr. Prince is a religious scholar as well as a technology industry CEO and entrepreneur.

Updated July 3, 2024

There are various accounts about how Joseph Smith acquired his seer stones. Two of the most common stories are that Smith found a seer stone in a well and the other near Lake Erie. Smith had at least two seer stones, one was dark in color and the other was described as whitish in color. Brigham Young, the second president of the Mormon Church, recorded that Smith may have had as many as five seer stones at one point. 

Today, the Mormon Church owns one of Smith’s seer stones. This seer stone is two-toned, brown and black, and could be the seer stone that Emma Smith described Smith using to translate the Book of Mormon. They published these pictures in a church magazine called Ensign in 2015. Some Mormons had never heard that Smith used seer stones to help him translate the Book of Mormon, others had.

 The Mormon Church chronicled the seer stone’s journey from Smith’s hands to the church’s archives. Smith this seer stone, often called the chocolate-colored seer stone, to Oliver Cowdery. Cowdery gave the seer stone to Phineas Young, who had rebaptized Cowdery into the Mormon Church. Phineas was the older brother of Brigham Young, the Mormon Church’s successor to Joseph Smith. Brigham gave the seer stone to  Zina Diantha Huntington Young, one of his plural wives. While Zina was serving as the Relief Society General President, she gave the seer stone to the leaders of the Church. The Mormon Church still has the Mormon seer stone and published pictures of it in 2015.

  • References
    1. Bushman, Joseph Smith: Rough Stone Rolling, 148-149 and MacKay and Frederick, Joseph Smith’s Seer Stones, 85-86.
    2. Bushman, Joseph Smith: Rough Stone Rolling, 148-149.
    3. “Seer Stone,” Joseph Smith Papers, accessed May 2, 2024,
    4. MacKay and Frederick, Joseph Smith’s Seer Stones, 380.