Document: 1987 D. Michael Quinn's comments (excerpts)
Source: Quinn, D. Michael Early Mormonism and the Magic World View, UT, 1987.
Note: Copyright © 1987 Signature Books. All rights reserved.
Quotations provided here are limited to "fair use" excerpts.
_______MAGIC WORLD VIEW________
D. Michael Quinn
Salt Lake City, Utah
...In view of the 1830-31 published statements from Palmyra about the link between Smith and "Walters the Magician," it is intriguing that no reference to him appears in Howe's 1834 Mormonism Unvailed. The
reason for this may be that the Mormon apostate Philastus Hurlbut, who gathered much of the information for Howe's anti-Mormon expos (R. L. Anderson 1969b, 15-16; R. L. Anderson 1984, 492-93), was also linked to Luman Walter(s).
His wife wrote, "My husband Doctor Philastus Hurlbut was born Feb 3d 1809 in Chittenden Co Vt near Lake Champlain. His parents named him Doctor because he was the seventh son," a long-standing folkloric belief that the seventh son would bring distinction to his family (Hurlbut 1885; also HC 1:355n; Fogel 1915, 59).
Beyond the fact that Hurlbut's parents evidently gave some credence to folk beliefs, there was also a Hurlbut family in Winchester, Litchfield County, Connecticut, where Luman Walter was born before his family's "removal to Burke, Vt., after 1798." The name of Philastus's father is not presently known, but at least some members of the Hurlbut family also moved from Winchester to Burke, Vermont, about the same time as the Walters (Parfitt 1986, 110, 127-28; Boyd 1873, 97-98, 275; History of Litchfield County 1881, 178). In addition, members of the Hurlbut family married into the Nathaniel Winchell family at Turkey Hills (now East Granby) and Windsor, Hartford County, Connecticut, again in the neighborhood of the Walter families. The Winchell family would later be involved in the so-called "Wood Scrape" (see chap. 2, and following). By the time these familial and neighborhood associations were in place in Connecticut, the Winchells moved "not long after the beginning of 1786, to Vermont" (Bates 1907, 32, 39; A. Winchell 1869, 44, 61).
A Walter(s)-Winchell-Hurlbut family connection seems to have begun in Connecticut, coalesced around the Joseph Smith family in Vermont, was reputed to be involved with the Wood Scrape there, followed the Smiths into New York, was reputed to be linked with young Joseph there, and even entered the LDS church. Although Philastus Hurlbut provided almost all of the information about the Smiths in New York for Howe's book, he may have had too many personal connections with folk magic to mention neighborhood claims of a Walter(s)-and-Winchell association with the Joseph Smith family. . . .
[p.125] . . . William H. Kelley, a historian from the Reorganized Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, traveled to New York in the mid-1880s to collect reminiscences of the Smiths' Palmyra neighbors who were still living, some of whom had been first interviewed by Philastus Hurlbut fifty years
[p.126] earlier. Kelley recorded Benjamin Saunders's statement as part of his interview with Benjamin's brother Lorenzo on 17 September 1884, and Benjamin provides further verification of Chase's account of the appearance of Moroni to Smith on the hill Cumorah in September 1823.
Saunders, a neighbor of the Joseph Smith family, was sixteen years old when the Book of Mormon was published. His entire statement of 1884 defends the Smiths. He reports that the Smiths were good workers, of good morals, that Joseph Smith, Sr., was not an exceptional drinker and was a hard worker. He denies that any of the Smith family was guilty of stealing, that Joseph Smith, Jr., ever got drunk, or that the Smiths were profane in speech. He affirms that he had no knowledge that Sidney Rigdon had been in the Palmyra neighborhood before 1830, which many anti-Mormons claimed in an effort to attribute the authorship of the Book of Mormon to Rigdon. Saunders testifies that Lucy Mack Smith was a good housekeeper and housewife, that Martin Harris was a respectable person before and after the coming forth of the Book of Mormon, that Oliver Cowdery had a good reputation, that the Smiths were good neighbors and devoted friends in time of need, and that the Smiths were never quarrelsome. In fact, the only hint of criticism is Saunders's statement that he did not accept Smith's prophetic claims because they "did not look consistent to my idea." It is no wonder that Saunders reported that when anti-Mormon Philastus Hurlbut was gathering affidavits in Palmyra in 1833, which were subsequently published in E. D. Howe's Mormonism Unvailed, "He came to me but he could not get out of me what he wanted; so went to others" (B. Saunders 1884, 30). . . . .
[p.139] His visit to the hill in September 1826 seems to have been the reason the twenty-year-old Smith was determined to set aside his family's tradition of delayed marriage and even to ignore the opposition of his intended father-in-law: he had to marry Emma Hale within a year or the
gold plates of Cumorah would be lost forever. The number of visits he subsequently made to the Hale home in Pennsylvania is unclear, but there were several. When Smith asked permission of Isaac Hale to marry his daughter, Hale, in his affidavit, said he refused because of the young man's treasure-seeking background (I. Hale 1834, 243). (A recent biography of Smith disputes this explanation of Hale's opposition to his marriage proposal because the "affidavit supposedly executed by Isaac in 1834 . . . was prepared by Philastus Hurlburt" (Gibbons [Joseph Smith: Martyr, Prophet of God.] 1977, 44). On the contrary, Isaac Hale published his affidavit in a local newspaper. Hurlbut had nothing to do with it, and E. D. Howe simply reprinted it in Mormonism Unvailed (Susquehanna Register, 1 May 1834; R. L. Anderson 1969b, 25n46; Rodger Anderson 1980a, 74).)