Examining the claims of Jonathan Neville and the Heartland movement

Wednesday, May 17, 2023

What Heartlandism does to the human brain

“Prosperous farmers.”

Joseph Smith:
“[I] was doomed to the necessity of obtaining a scanty maintenance by [my] daily labor.” (JSH 1:23)

“While preparing to [leave New York for Pennsylvania]—being very poor, and the persecution so heavy upon us that there was no probability that we would ever be otherwise…” (JSH 1:61)
Church History website, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints:
The Smiths moved to Palmyra, New York, between 1816 and 1817, with the intent of growing wheat. After saving for two years, the family made the first payment on a 100-acre lot of densely forested land in Manchester, a few miles south of Palmyra. During the winter of 1818 to 1819, the 10 members of the Smith family moved into a 1,000-square-foot log home built by Joseph Smith Sr. and his sons Alvin and Hyrum. The home was situated north of the farm, in Palmyra Township.

Developing a farm took years of work. The entire family labored to clear the land, plant and harvest crops, dig wells, build fences and rock walls, and construct a barn and other outbuildings. The family even harvested sap from the numerous maple trees on the farm to realize some early income.…

The family soon built a larger, frame home on the farm. Before his untimely death in November 1823, Alvin had begun construction on the frame home to provide greater comfort and more respectability for his aging parents. About twice the size of the log home, the frame home featured multiple rooms for receiving guests and included a large kitchen.…

Due to Alvin Smith’s death, the expense of the frame home, and the unscrupulous dealings of a local land agent, the financially strapped Smith family was unable to make the second payment on the farm and lost the title to it in 1826. By the time the Book of Mormon was published in 1830, the Smiths had moved back into the log home and were working as tenant farmers on the land they had cleared and developed. The family left the area permanently in 1831, when they moved to Ohio.
—Mike Parker [“Peter Pan”]


  1. Today's word is "indigent", which has the same number of syllables, and rhymes with, "ignorant".

    Definition: suffering from extreme poverty : IMPOVERISHED.
    Synonyms include: beggared, broke, destitute, dirt-poor, needy, penniless, penurious, and threadbare.
    Used in a sentence that Joseph wrote himself: "...[ Moroni] added a caution to me, telling me that Satan would try to tempt me (in consequence of the indigent circumstances of my father’s family), to get the plates for the purpose of getting rich. This he forbade me..." (JSH 1:46).

    That sentence is in my Seminary triple that I bought over 30 years ago. It's also in the 1949 edition (red cover) in what was then called "Joseph Smith 2".

    Relatedly, the tiny Church history book "Our Legacy" (1996) says this: "[The Smiths, in Vermont] were humble, obscure people who earned a meager living by their hard labor" (p1). So much for their great prosperity. This is all long before some nefarious Cabal of Church History Revisionist Corruption™ ever went rogue and started writing professional history instead of hagiography. Just who is playing fast and loose with facts, here, anyway? Put down the flavored Diet Coke, Junkbox, you're drunk.

    1. A great synonym that I failed to look for. Excellent find!

  2. I ran in to this recently in my studies, the fact that Joseph Smith had to overcome his desire to get the plates for wealth was BECAUSE they were poor farmers. ("i made an attempt to get them out, but was forbidden")(yeah, I wonder why, GOLD! hey!) He knew it; God knew it. The emphasis on Joseph winning over Josiah Stoal in 'finally I prevailed with the old gentleman to cease digging after it.' (silver mine) shows tremendous growth in character and doubtless played into his ability to get the plates from Moroni years later. <3 Great posts Peter.

    1. That’s an excellent historical connection!

  3. We’re all poor farmers, if you really think about it. From the perspective of the cosmic universe, we’re just a tiny little farmer on this tiny blue planet, just trying to make something of ourselves. We dig, we water, we get some sun, and we grow. And then, we harvest our crops, and reap what we sow. But don’t reap gold plates. Don’t you dare reap those gold plates.

  4. Great context, Eric! No wonder Joseph first thought of the material value of the plates and was reproved by Moroni.


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