The Voree Plates

The Voree Plates

by Rick Hurd,

“*REVELATION. The Angel of the Lord came unto me, James, on the first day of September, in the year eighteen hundred and fortyfive, and the light Shined about him above the brightness of the sun, and he showed unto me the plates of the sealed record, and he gave into my hands the Urim and Thummin. And out of the light came the voice of the Lord, saying, My servant James, in blessing I will bless thee, and in multiplying I will multiply thee, because I have tried thee, and found thee faithful. Behold, my servant James, I am about to bless thee with a great blessing, which shall be to those who love me, an immutable testimony; to those who know me not, a stumbling block; but to those who have known me, and have turned their hearts from me, a rock of offence. Go to the place which the Angel of the presence shall show thee, and there shalt thou dig for the record of my people, in whose possession thou dwellest. Take with thee faithful witnesses; for in evil will the unfaithful speak of thee; but the faithful and true shall know that they are liars, and shall not stumble for their words.

And while I was yet in the spirit, the Angel of the Lord took me away to the hill in the east of Walworth, against White River, in Voree, and there he showed unto me the record buried under an oak tree as large as the body of a large man; it was enclosed in an earthen casement, and buried in the ground as deep as to a man’s waist, and I beheld it as a man can see a light stone in clear water; for I saw it by Urim and Thummin.”

“TESTIMONY. On the thirteenth day of September, 1845, we, Aaron Smith, Jirah B. Wheelan, James M. Van Nostrand, and Edward Whitcomb, assembled at the call of James J. Strang, who is by us and many others approved as a Prophet and Seer of God. He proceeded to inform us that it had been revealed to him in a vision that an account of an ancient people was buried in a hill south of White River bridge, near the east line of Walworth County; and leading us to an oak tree, about one foot in diameter, told us that we would find it enclosed in a case of rude earthen ware under that tree, at the depth of about three feet; requested us to dig it up, and charged us to so examine the ground that we should know we were not imposed upon, and that it had not been buried there since the tree grew. The tree was surrounded by a sward of deeply rooted grass, such as is usually found in the openings; and upon the most critical examination, we could not discover any indication that it had ever been cut through or disturbed.

We then dug up the tree, and continued to dig to the depth of about three feet, where we found a case of slightly baked clay, containing three plates of brass. The case was found imbedded in indurated clay, so closely fitting it that it broke in taking out; and the earth below the soil was so hard as to be dug with difficulty, even with a pickaxe. Over the case was found a flat stone, about one foot wide each way, and three inches thick, which appeared to have undergone the action of fire, and fell in pieces after a few minutes exposure to the air. The digging extended in the clay about eighteen inches, there being two kinds of earth of different colour and appearance above it.

We examined as we dug all the way with the utmost care, and we say, with the utmost confidence, that no part of the earth through which we dug exhibited any sign or indication that it had been moved or disturbed at any time previous. The roots of the tree struck down on every side very closely, extending below the case, and closely interwoven with roots from other trees. None of them had been broken or cut away. No clay is found in the country like that of which the case is made.

In fine, we found an alphabetick and pictorial record, carefully cased up, buried deep in the earth, covered with a flat stone, with an oak tree one foot in diameter, growing over it, with every evidence that the senses can give that it has lain there as long as that tree has been growing. Strang took no part in the digging, but kept entirely away, from before the first blow was struck till after the plates were taken out of the case; and the sole inducement to our digging was our faith in his statement as a Prophet of the Lord, that a record would thus and there be found.

Aaron Smith, Jira B. Wheelan, J. M. Van Nostrand, Edward Whitcomb.” (1856 edition of the Book of the Law of the Lord pp. 250-252)



Our curiosity was sufficiently excited, to induce us to make ourself more fully acquainted with the circumstances and facts. For this end we visited the gentlemen alluded to as Seer and Prophet. We were cordially received, the plates were shown us, and we examined the spot from which they purport to have been taken.

The Prophet appears to us a very intelligent man devoid of any thing like enthusiasm: and so far as we could judge honest and earnest in all he said. The men who subscribe the statement are said to be among the most honest and intelligent, in the neighborhood; and take it all together it is something to stagger an ordinary credulity. the popular opinion will doubtless call it a humbug, so should we from the natural impulse of our mind, but when the testimony appears in opposition to such impulse, we are content to have no opinion about it. (Soupt. Tel. carried in the Voree Hearld p. 60.)

You have frequently heard both myself and each of the four witnesses of that transaction detail the facts and circumstances. Allowing this testimony to be in any sense true, no one can get over the fact that I was guided and assisted therein by revelation and the power of God.” Have these men receded from their testimony? No. True, two or three of them have departed from the faith but they still give the same testimony in regard to that transaction. As men engaged in the work of God, they testified to a set of facts which you admit (if credible) proves me a prophet. As enemies of that cause and anxiously endeavoring to overthrow the same work of God, they still tell the same story of that matter. Is not the testimony Of an enemy in our favor as good as that of a friend? When the plates were obtained it was a common saving that if the witnesses had not been believers in me the world would be bound to receive their testimony. The facts in the obtaining those plates were independent substantive facts TANGIBLE TO THE NATURAL SENSES, and the witnesses have shown a certain integrity worthy of respect in giving the same testimony, both when it makes for and when it makes against themselves. If their apostacy does not strengthen, it certainly does not weaken their testimony. The conclusion from those facts that I am a seer and revelator is a mere matter of reason, not of testimony. When they depart from that, they show weakness of intellect rather titan want of integrity. A very honest man may be a bad reasoner, but you will take the facts from him, and you have drawn your conclusions by saying, “allowing this testimony to be in any sense true, no one can get over the fact that I was guided and assisted therein by revelation and the power of God.” (Zion’s Reveille. VOL. 2. September 9, 1847 No. 25.)

To view a facsimile of the Voree Plates see: