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Before Joseph Smith claimed to have discovered golden plates buried in the ground, he claimed to have a special ability to locate other buried treasure. In 1826, while being employed by Josiah Stowell, a well-heeled farmer in Bainbridge County, New York, to find Spanish treasure that Stowell believed was buried on his property, Joseph was arrested and brought before a judge on criminal charges related to his local reputation as "The Glass-Looker".
What is a glass-looker? A glass-looker is a person who looks into an object, such as a crystal ball or a stone, to see into the future or to see into the spirit world.
Joseph Smith's method of glass-looking is pictured above. It is largely identical to the method he would later use to translate the Book of Mormon. It consisted of placing a stone in a white stovepipe hat, holding it tightly around his face to keep the light out, and seeing whatever images the stone presented to him. The glass-looking skills Joseph claimed to have were very desirable for believing people with money and time to spare. Joseph charged a fee and a commission for helping such people locate buried treasure and outwit the spirits that guard such treasure.
The facts surrounding Joseph Smith's 1826 arrest and the legal proceedings that resulted are the subject of much debate. HERE is a link to a short article, written by a faithful Latter-day Saint and first published in 1972 in BYU Studies, that provides a concise summary of some of the religious and historical issues raised by the 1826 trial. HERE is a link to chapter two of a book presenting some of Dale Morgan's research on early Mormonism, first published by Signature Books in 1986, which (starting about halfway through) sets forth in detail Joseph Smith's employment with Josiah Stowell as a glass-looker.
While the LDS Church has not officially addressed Joseph Smith's treasure hunting arrest, it has officially acknowledged, since 2013, that Joseph Smith did engage in this treasure hunting activity as a glass looker. See the LDS Church's official essay covering the topic, "The Book of Mormon Translation," including Footnote 19.