February 24, 2024

Lucy Harris Trying to Find the Gold Plates

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Lucy Harris, the wife of Martin Harris, struggled with her husbands friendship with Joseph Smith. Through that friendship Lucy Harris was brought into a world she did not choose. With the financial assistance of Martin Harris, Joseph Smith was able to get The Book of Mormon printed, but the marriage of Martin and Lucy was put at odds. Lucy was against Martin giving Joseph financial help. Lucy was probably worried for the wellbeing herself and her family, if Joseph Smith was lying. Lucy Harris got more adamant in her demands and even seemed to be a little unhinged throughout her time with the Smith family.

It is clear that the Gold Plates were not to be viewed by anyone without the permission of the Lord, Joseph knew of the importance that commandment, and Lucy Harris was not happy about not being able to see the plates. When Lucy Harris was told her could not see the Golden Plates, she was upset and she made an effort to find the plates for herself. It appears as though Lucy Harris is a person accustomed to getting what she desires. When told Lucy was not allowed to see the plates she went a little crazy, especially with all the efforts her husband was putting in to help the translation process, she felt entitled to the opportunity.

On one winter day, Lucy tore apart the Smith's home looking for the plates, certain she would find them. When Lucy was not able to find the plates in the Smith home she went out around the Smith's farm looking for the plates, determined. The Golden Plates were protected by God, and with the help of Heavenly Father, Lucy Harris was not able to find the plates. At one point when Lucy was out looking for the plates Lucy was stopped by a great black snake, and decided it was not worth the trouble to continue looking, here his the story told by Lucy Mack Smith:

"As soon as she arrived there, she said she had come to see the plates and would never leave until she had accomplished it. Without delay she began ransacking every nook and corner of the house-chest, cupboard, trunk, etc.; consequently, Joseph was compelled to take both the breastplate and the record out of the house and secrete them elsewhere. Not finding them in the house, she concluded that Joseph had buried them, and the next day she went out and hunted the ground over, adjacent to the house. She kept up the search till two o’clock in the afternoon, when she came in very ill-natured and, after warming herself a little, enquired of Emma if they had snakes there in the wintertime. “I was walking around in the woods,” said she, “to look at the situation of your place, and as I turned round to come home, a tremendous, great black snake stuck up its head before me and commenced hissing at me.”

The woman was so disappointed and perplexed in everything she undertook that she left the house and took lodgings at the house of a near neighbor. Here she stated to the hostels that she was in search of the plates, that when she came to a place where she thought they must be buried, upon stooping down to scrape away the snow and leaves in order to examine the spot, she encountered a horrible black snake which frightened her so badly that she ran to the house as fast as possible.

While this woman remained in the neighborhood, she did all that her ingenuity could contrive to injure Joseph in the estimation of his neighbors. She told them that he was a grand imposter, that he had deceived her husband with his specious pretensions and was exerting all his deceptive powers in order to induce Mr. Harris to give his property into Joseph’s hands, that he might, by robbing her husband, make himself rich. When she returned home, which was about two weeks from the time she arrived in Harmony, she endeavored to dissuade Mr. Harris from having anything further to do with the writing or translating of the record. But Mr. Harris paid but little attention to her, and as he had agreed to go back and write for a season at least, he did so."

It is interesting that the black snake came out, in the winter, at the exact location where Lucy Harris thought she had found the gold plates buried on the property. Lucy Harris obviously recognized the danger of the snake, but did not see the connection to God protecting His work. Snakes are not common in upstate New York in the winter months, and that is why Lucy Harris asked Emma about it. Lucy knew it did not seem normal for the snake to be there in the winter, but again, did not connect it to God stopping her from finding the Gold Plates. It was not a coincidence for Lucy to run into that large black snake, but that snake stopped her from digging around the Smith family yard again!

Lucy Harris did not realize what she was doing when she was searching for the Gold Plates, or the importance of the plates. Her curiosity and stubborn attitude stopped her from learning and progressing in the gospel. Lucy could have been something, instead she is known throughout Latter-day Saint history as the person who tried to stop progress, and nothing more. The Lord would never have allowed her, or anyone to find the plates, and instead of listening and learning she believed that she knew better. Through her ill-mannered actions she is only remembered as the angry, sometimes crazy, first wife of Martin Harris.


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