Question: Did one of the Book of Mormon witnesses actually only handle the plates while they were covered in a "tow frock"?

Table of Contents

Question: Did one of the Book of Mormon witnesses actually only handle the plates while they were covered in a "tow frock"?

William Smith, who was not one of the Three or Eight Witnesses, described handling the plates covered by a "tow frock" when Joseph brought them home from the Hill Cumorah

It is claimed by some that at least one of the Book of Mormon witnesses said they only handled the plates while they were covered in a "tow frock," and that this is evidence that the witnesses were simply imagining that they saw the plates because they believed in "second sight."

All of the statements regarding seeing the plates covered by a "tow frock" come from one person: William Smith. William was Joseph Smith's older brother, but he was not one of the Three or Eight Book of Mormon witness. William is instead describing his experience when Joseph brought the plates home from the hill later known as "Mormon Hill" and ultimately, "Hill Cumorah." Joseph had wrapped the plates in a frock in order to keep them from being seen. William was allowed to handle the plates while they were still wrapped in the frock.

Critics of the Church who employ this statement as evidence do not reveal that this report is actually from William Smith and instead attempt to portray Williams description of handling the plates as coming from one of the Three or Eight Witnesses to the Book of Mormon. They also fail to tell us that William insisted in the same statement that he was convinced Joseph was not lying about the plates. William also dismissed the Spalding hypothesis of Book of Mormon authorship as nonsense.

William Smith's statement actually confirms that Joseph did have something in his possession that fit the dimensions, form, and weight of the plates he claimed to have. So William, although not a direct witness, is an accessory who confirms Joseph Smith's story.

Notes