Before there was organized garbage pickup, there were “middens”—scattered garbage that accumulated around a home. In Joseph Smith Sr. and Lucy Smith’s midden in Tunbridge, Vermont, archaeologists Mark L. Staker and Donald L. Enders found surprisingly fine ceramics and a fork. The archaeologists also found fragments of tea cups and a rum bowl—striking remnants of a pre-Word of Wisdom way of life.

In Joseph and Lucy Smith’s Tunbridge Farm: An Archaeology and Landscape Study, Staker and Enders document their excavation of the Smiths’ Vermont home. In addition to rooting through the garbage, they also dug out the entire cellar and examined the land for signs of tillage and agricultural production and processing. Excellent documentary historians as well as archaeologists, Staker and Enders meticulously put their findings into historical context. They find that Joseph Smith Sr.’s failed deal to import ginseng likely proved the financial ruin of the whole extended family, not just of Joseph Lucy. And they find that one of Lucy’s prophetic dreams—in which she saw her husband and his brother represented as trees—evokes a cemetery near the meadow on her property where she spent a lot of time. Placing the setting of her dream in the location where her firstborn child was buried adds insight into her “first vision.”

The Kindle and print editions of Joseph and Lucy Smith’s Tunbridge Farm release on March 1, 2021. The Kindle version may be preordered today at For an opportunity to hear from author Mark Staker, join us on Zoom for a release party at 7 PM MST on March 1.