In some sense, Mormonism began with the hanging of Captain William Kidd.
The logic goes like this:
- Captain Kidd’s death in 1701 led to massive rumors that treasures were buried throughout the New York area. The practice of treasure digging in New England grew steadily between 1701 and 1820.
- The Smith family and eventually Joseph became massive treasure diggers/scryers/jugglers/peepers, thanks largely to these legends of Captain Kidd. Perhaps most importantly, the idea of an angel (Nephi/Moroni) guarding the buried treasures (golden plates, sword of Laban), requiring a seer to find them (Joseph Smith), and the idea that the treasure(s) could be taken back or away….all of those ideas came straight from the Captain Kidd lore of spirits/ghosts guarding buried treasures.
- Treasure Digging was where Joseph first learned to convince people that he had special powers (even though he didn’t). This was an important part of Joseph gaining a reputation as someone with spiritual gifts. And of course the rock in the hat shenanigans were all developed as a part of the treasure digging scheme.
- When Joseph couldn’t do treasure digging any more (due to all the legal troubles, and the ire of Emma’s father Isaac), Joseph took all the “skills” that he learned treasure digging and transferred them into the Book of Mormon project as his next “gig” – but so much of the Book of Mormon project had roots in the treasure digging. This included:
- Treasure buried in a hillside,
- An angel/spirit protecting the treasure,
- Joseph as the magical one to see/retrieve the treasure, and
- The treasure ultimately being taken away by the guardian spirit. All of these components come from the Captain Kidd lore.
Captain Kidd legends => Joseph’s Treasure digging and seer stone use => the Book of Mormon project => Joseph starting the Mormon church.
Are any of you picking up what I’m putting down?