Joseph Smith was given the opportunity to translate the Plates, from the ancient record. The Plates were a gift from heaven saved for many years, until the perfect time to bring them forth, and share them with the world. Even though, the plates were given from God, it did not stop evil from trying to get them from the young prophet. Getting the plates from the Hill Cumorah on the first night and into a new hiding place, did not stop the evil plots at work. There were many people trying their hardest to get the plates from Joseph. Joseph had to always be on the move, to protect the plates of God. New hiding places, and different ways to keep them safe were always in the works. Joseph was always warned before the plots were set, and the plates remained safe.
Joseph learned about the plates from an angel four years before he was able to get the plates from the Hill. This waiting period made it possible for Joseph to learn and grow from the influence of God, but it also made it possible for more people to hear about Joseph’s efforts in obtaining the plates. The evil plots formed and groups of men(and women) worked to get the plates from Joseph Smith. When the time came for Joseph to receive the plates, there were multiple people ready to stop the young prophet from translating them. The Lord prepared Joseph, and helped him know what he needed to do to protect the plates.
Multiple Plots to Steal the Golden Plates
It is interesting to note, the people of the Palmyra area were often quoted saying that Joseph Smith was a liar and never had received the plates, and in the next breath multiple efforts were made to steal the plates. Some of the criminals were more effective than others in their efforts to steal the plates from Joseph. There was one man, in particular, named Mr. Willard Chase who was determined to get the plates from Joseph Smith. The Lord would not allow the Golden Plates to be taken, and Joseph Smith was always warned of the wicked efforts, before the evil could get them.
Willard Chase did his research, to plan and prepare for the theft of the Golden Plates. He sought the insights of psychics or “conjornour”, to try to get information on the location of the plates. Willard Chase was also described as a psychic himself. In a description given by Brigham Young, Willard Chase was described as a “fortune teller, a necromancer, an astrologer, a soothsayer, and possessed as much talent as any man that walked on the American soil, and was one of the wickedest men I ever saw”.
Brigham Young also recorded that Mr. Willard Chase was very diligent in his efforts of finding the plates by riding “over sixty miles three times in the same season” in an effort to find the hidden golden plates.
Joseph Smith Sr., found out about the plot to get the gold plates and told the prophets wife, Emma. Even before the warning from his father, Joseph had already been informed of the danger from the Urim and Thummin.
Joseph immediately returned to the Smith farm where he had hidden the plates in a hollowed out log, about three miles from his home. Joseph removed the plates from a hollowed out log, where they had been hidden, wrapped the plates in a linen frock and placed them under his arm and started for home.
After walking for a time, Joseph thought it would be better to get off the road and walk through the woods. After a time he came to a large log and as he was jumping over the log a man sprang from behind it, and gave Joseph a heavy blow with a gun. The attacks on Joseph did not stop there, but was challenged two more times by individuals who attacked him. During the attack Joseph struck one man, dislocating his thumb and badly bruising his hand.
The efforts to keep the Plates safe were challenging, but Joseph and the Plates were protected during the translation process. Even though, God was protecting the plates, Joseph and his family were always on guard, everyone making a joint effort to protect this special assignment.
Mobs searching the Smith Farm, Efforts to take the Plates
When the plates were safely on the Smith Family farm, Joseph sent for his brother Don Carlos to fetch a chest where the plates and the other heavenly items could be stored. Even with the plates in the chest, the family still worried about the evils plans to get the plates from Joseph.
Katherine Smith, the sister of Joseph stated “that from the time the plates were brought into the house, the Smiths premises were searching all around on a regular basis. Mobs of people even looked through the farm’s field and its standing wheat stacks in hopes of finding the rumored treasure.”
Smith Family Scaring the Mob
There are multiple accounts of the efforts evil people trying to get the Gold Plates from Joseph Smith. The Smith family had to alway be on guard and there were multiple times the mob came close to getting the plates.
One of the best stories is when the Smith Family took on the mob themselves, tricking the mob to leave. This story happened on a day Joseph returned home in a rush worrying about the plates and indicated a mob would be there before nighttime. The Smith family got to work preparing a plan to be ready for the mobs arrival.
The Smith family, with the help of a friend, Mr. Brahman, first made sure the plates would be well hidden from any intruder by taking bricks out of the hearth of their fireplace. They hid the plates in the stop where they removed the bricks and replaced the bricks on top, making it look like the bricks had never been removed.
The Smiths then made a plan to scare the mob away when they arrived. When the mob arrived the Smith men crashed out of the doors hollering and yelling. This made the mob thing there were many more people in and around the home, and the mob panicked with all the noise and fled from the Smith home.
Warnings Saved the Plates
Not long after the last story of the Smiths hiding the Plated in the hearth of the fireplace, there was another threat on the Plates. Joseph hid the plates on the coopers shoe on the Smith family farm. The plates were concealed in the floor of the shop. Joseph being warned by an angel Joseph “took them out and hid them up in the chamber of the coopers shop among the flax. That night someone came, took up the floor, and dug up the earth, and would have found the plates had they not been removed.”
This was all too much for Joseph, knowing they would not be safe in Palmyra to finish the translation of The Book of Mormon. Joseph and Emma left to Harmony Pennsylvania to continue the translation of The Book of Mormon in peace.
Joseph Smith, Exploring the life and ministry of the Prophet p.70