Sunday, August 9, 2015

Joe Smith in Palmyra

Oneida Dispatch, Oneida, N.Y.
March 8, 1872

    The correspondent of the Cincinnati Time and Chronicle, at Palmyra, in a recent letter to that paper, relates many interesting incidents; among others the following joe about Jo Smith, the Mormon Prophet:

    When a young man he was employed by one Durfee to assist in haying. In Durfee’s pantry stood two bottles quite similar in appearance, one containing whiskey (an article quite common in those days, but now entirely out of the market, benzine taking its place,) and the other,  medicine known as “No. 6.” It was a fiery, peppery compound that no family in New York State was without, thirty years ago, and if it had no  other merit, it was certainly warming. 

    I remember being dosed with it when I was a boy, and I sometimes think that it is what makes me so smart now. Jo Smith had a palate for good whiskey, although he would prefer that it wouldn’t cost him anything. He knew of the whiskey bottle in the pantry, and resolved to have a smack at it, for Durfee kept it rather close.

    So one night, after the house was in repose, Jo stole out of bed, and creeped safely down stairs, from his room in the loft, sought out the pantry. Shortly after, the family was aroused by a tremendous rattling of the bucket down the well, which stood near the house, attended by a fearful coughing and spitting on the part of some one in the vicinity.

    It was one of the old-fashioned wells that you don’t see on exhibition at the fairs and can’t buy at the family supply stores any more. They aren’t peddled around the country, nor put in prizes in gift lotteries. 

    This well was worked with a windlass and a chain, and when the  iron-bound moss-covered bucket was allowed to go down on the run, as the sailors say, bumping against the curbing, it made it very lively for the windlass, and this was the racket that woke up the Durfee family.

    Out of bed they sprang at once, and ran to the well, where they found the founder of Mormonism in his night-clothes, working the windlass with might and main, hauling up the bucket. “Why Jo! what’s the matter?” cried old man Durfee, as he recognized his hired man. With a quick shake of the head, as much as to say, “Don’t speak to the man at the wheel,” and coughing furiously, Jo seized the dripping bucket as it reached the top of the curb, and resting it on the edge applied his eager mouth to the rim and drank, and drank, and drank, the cooling liquid, fairly hissing as i went down his burn in throat.

    Durfee declared to his dying day Jo never let up so long as here was a drop in the bucket and he believed he would have drank the well dry if they hadn’t restrained him. All there was about it, Jo had mistaken the “No. 6” for the whiskey.

                                                                         Submitted by Dick Palmer

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