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Smith Family Farm in Vermont (Part 1 of 5)

Joseph Smith was born in Vermont before his family fell on hard times financially and move to New York.  What is known about the Smith’s Vermont farm?  I’m excited to introduce Dr Mark Staker who has conducted a study of the Smith farm in his new book “Joseph & Lucy Smith’s Tunbridge Farm.”

Mark:  Our new book, as I mentioned my colleague Don Anders and I, we were doing another major project, looking at the early history of the Smith family. One area that we didn’t know a lot about was their Vermont experience. So, we’ve worked intently, trying to figure out all those details. We knew that the Smith family had lived in Tunbridge. There was a site there that everybody pointed to. Larry Dollars, there’s a great picture of him, pointing his finger down to the hole, and saying, “Here’s the site where Hyrum Smith was born, and where the Smith family lived. We assumed that was the case, but nobody had ever really looked at it carefully. There were some photographs that conflicted with that. The early George Edward Anderson photographs were of a big complex where he said Hyrum was born. If you looked at the mountains, they just weren’t the same mountains. Something was wrong. So we wanted to sort that out.

GT:  What year are we talking about, approximately?

Mark:  The fall of 1790. They get there in November of 1790 and they’re building the home. Well, I should step back. During the summer, they build a structure. Joseph, Sr. injures his leg in some way. So he heads back down to Massachusetts, while Jesse continues to finish the home. By some miracle, he meets them on the road. You can imagine how easy it would have been for them to miss each other. He would have gotten down to Massachusetts and the family is already gone. But, he meets on the road and he’s able to then take them back up to the home site.

GT:  So, 1790 that’s relatively close to the Revolutionary War period. Is there any evidence that they might have participated in the revolution?

Mark:  Asael did. He was a soldier private in the war. Joseph, senior, was not. He did not fight directly in the war. His son, Joseph, Jr., later talks about his father fighting in the war. It seems that he’s thinking more in terms of his forefathers. His grandfathers both fought in the war. A lot of other individuals, including a family member’s name is Joseph. It would be a Gould, Joseph Gould.

Did you know Joseph’s ancestors fought in the Revolutionary War?  Check out our conversation….

Dr. Mark Staker is working on an archaeological dig of the Joseph Smith, Sr. farm in Vermont.

Don’t miss our previous conversation with Dr. Mark Staker!


Mark Staker on History of Kirtland

020: Kirtland Banking Crisis: Joseph Takes the Blame

019: Kirtland Banking Crisis: Why it Failed

018: Kirtland Banking Crisis:  Why a Bank?

016: Elijah’s Visit & the Sealing Keys

014: Did the Kirtland Temple Sparkle?  (Staker & Bennett)

013: Kirtland Temple University?

012: Kirtland Era Polygamy

011: Black Pete’s Mormon Mission in 1831

010: Black Pete:  The First Black Mormon

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New York Times Interview (Part 4 of 5)

In the Summer of 2013, the New York Times came out with a front-page article with Hans Mattsson discussing his loss of belief.  Hans will take us behind the scenes to talk about how it was set up, and how Church leaders reacted to the article.

Hans:  Birgitta was employed by the Church at the store, where they sell books, because it’s the Distribution Center and she was called up by her boss and [he] wondered, what are you doing? I would call it an exciting moment. People were waiting and wondered, and they called us, and she was not supposed to come back to her work, to her job. We were also on the way to move to Spain the same year, but we were on our way to leave anyway.

GT:  So she basically got fired because of that interview, would you say?

Hans:  Yes. But that said, you can have what they call a green leave, garden leave, sorry.  So they paid her anyway during the time before we left, so they handled it very nicely, actually. But they didn’t want us to be in contact with any members. Birgitta and I were called to the Stake president for interviews, twice, and the second time I took Birgitta with me and they were going to excommunicate me. They said, “We’ll let you know.”  After two weeks, I had a phone call, and they said, “We won’t do anything.”

GT:  They wanted to excommunicate both you and her? Or…

Hans:  Yes, but they said, “We won’t do anything”. That happened twice, really.

Find out why Hans believes the Church chose not to act.  Check out our conversation….

Hans Mattsson’s disaffection with LDS Church made the front page of the New York Times.

Don’t miss our other conversations with Hans!

498: Hans View of Swedish Rescue

497: First Doubts on Church History

496: Becoming First Swedish GA

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Hans’ View of Swedish Rescue (Part 3 of 5)

High profile church leaders flew to Sweden in 2010 to try to answer difficult church history questions to Swedish Latter-day Saints.  How did the meeting go?  Hans Mattsson gives his impressions of the meeting.

Hans:  First of all, it was a secret meeting. No one should know about it.

GT:  Oh, it wasn’t public.

Hans:  No. We had the New Area Authority Seventy Ingvar Olsson and he was inviting those that the bishops would [recommend] to have at the meeting, to straighten us out. I called him because I know him quite well. I said, “Hey, listen. I can help you. Because I knew all the people that you should have there.”  He said, “No, I’ll go through the bishops and stake president.”  We were there in the evening, a Sunday evening after everything was closed in the church. We were about 20 struggling, seeking-truth people. At the same time, they had also called bishops and stake presidents and some high councilmen and PR people from the Church. We were about 40-45 people, and also the Area President, Elder Kopischke came up from Germany. So there was quite strong leadership there.  Elder Jensen went out and welcomed him and helped him.  I said, “I’m glad to see you again.  I hope you can give us some good answers.”  They said, “Oh, I’m glad you’re here, Elder Mattsson.  I’m glad, and you can help me.”  I said, “Well, I only wanted to know the truth.”  So, we started there. So anyway, we were into the meeting and Elder Jensen says, after we introduce ourselves, and told why we were there and who we are, Elder Jensen started the meeting by [drawing] on the whiteboard, making a line from top to bottom, divided in two sides.  [On one side] was Jesus, God, and the Church. Another [side] was Satan and the world. He gave a lot of scriptures that proved that if you’re not in the Church, you’re in the world and in the hands of Lucifer.  So, it was a very, very tough way to start with them. We felt like we were not here to discuss if we are Satan’s people, or if we are God’s people. We just wanted to know the truth. But it was very black and white then. After that, Elder Turley went up and we were asked what kind of questions we had, and they wrote it down, I think about 12 questions down. [The questions were about] the hat and stone, polygamy, polyandry. Do we believe in polygamy still?  I can’t remember all the questions, but today [these questions] are very common. So, we really tried to ask questions, or discuss them, with them.

Find out what else went on during the meeting, and how it ended.  Check out our conversation….

Hans Mattsson tells about the Swedish Rescue meeting with Elder Marlin Jensen and Richard Turley.

Don’t miss our previous conversations with Hans!

497: First Doubts on Church History

496: Becoming First Swedish GA