Kathleen Melonakos’s book Secret Combinations: Evidence of Early Mormon Counterfeiting (1800-1847) has created buzz in many online Mormon communities and we are excited to launch our series with Kathleen’s expertise and careful research. Her book chronicles the evidence that early Mormon leaders, starting with Joseph Smith Sr., dealt in counterfeit money beginning in Vermont, and continuing throughout Joseph and Hyrum’s careers. It places the Smith brothers in the early American context where counterfeiting networks and some of their CEO-like bosses posed as preachers. It is the only book of its kind that uncovers the problems counterfeiters caused in early America and what really happened before, during and after the Book of Mormon appeared on the scene. Her book is both fact-based and fast moving, supported by more than 1400 footnotes and over 100 photos and illustrations. It is also based on nearly 10 years of research conducted in Vermont, New York, Illinois, Missouri, and Utah.
In this interview, Kathleen attempts to provide the historical context for the life of the Smith family and the founding of the LDS Church. In particular, we focus on the counterfeiting culture of the time period (Part 1), treasure digging as a practice (Part 2), the origins of the Book of Mormon (Part 3), and finally we delve into how her research and work influences Kathleen’s personal beliefs (Part 4).
*Updated links for further study*
- An Article from the John Whitmer Assosiation Journal
- Scanned documents of Professor John Smith’s writings can be found here
Part 1 – Kathleen discusses “counterfeiting culture” as an influence in early Mormonism:
Part 2 – Kathleen discusses treasure digging as a practice:
Part 3 – Kathleen discusses the origin of the Book of Mormon:
Part 4 – Kathleen delves into her personal beliefs: