Captain KiddThe average Mormon is well acquainted with the story of Joseph Smith finding the buried golden plates of Mormon on Hill Cumorah, but what they’re typically not familiar with is the story behind Smith’s story.

John Kyd was supposedly a sailor who was lost at sea and the father of the notorious Captain William Kidd who became a legend in the annals of pirate folklore. Whether he was truly guilty of all the crimes he was charged with is questionable in the latest research done by historians of the twentieth century.

What is known is that Captain Kidd was put on trial by Parliament and subsequently found guilty of five counts of murder. As punishment he was hanged and his body left as a reminder to others of what their fate would be if/when they do the same.

During his escapades he was supposed to have buried large amounts of treasure in New York and Connecticut, as well as the Comoros Islands. The Comoros Islands are a group of four small inhabited islands found in the Indian Ocean off the coast of Africa. On the northern most island of Ngazidja you’ll find the capitol city Moroni.

Even though this ill-fated pirate’s life ended in 1701, Kidd’s legacy was alive and well in Smith’s day and carried with it rumors of buried treasure in New York. This made for a never ending expedition for people like Smith who made treasure hunting their vocation in life. Papers up and down the Atlantic seaboard announcing the activities of other treasure seekers and newly published books glamorizing the mysterious life of pirates gave Smith prime opportunity to learn about the swashbuckling terror and fodder to adopt the ideology of treasure seeking for his works in his neck of the woods of upstate New York.

Digging for gold and treasure seeking was a common hobby amongst those who had adopted magic into their worship of God. While it wasn’t tolerated in the fundamentalist Christian community, there was a fair amount of people who engaged in the hunt for treasure.

Interesting as well is the spelling change that was made to the Book of Mormon Cumorah that LDS members are familiar with today. In the 1830 Book of Mormon it’s spelled Camorah, not Cumorah. And for the record, in the early nineteenth century the Island nation was spelled Camora but is now referred to as Comoros.

1981 Book of Mormon: Mormon 8:2; “And now it came to pass that after the great and tremendous battle at Cumorah, behold, the Nephites who had escaped…”

1830 Book of Mormon, pg 538; “And now it came to pass that after the great and tremendous battle at Camorah, behold, the Nephites which had escaped…”

It’s long been debated whether or not Smith knew about Kidd’s exploits, but what is known is that he did have access to and was a frequent visitor of the local library and post office which carried the papers and books in question.

This fact coupled with his own mother’s comment about having a vivid imagination makes it impossible to believe his claims that Moroni an angel of light appeared and gave him the location of the buried golden plates.

“During our evening conversations, Joseph would occasionally give us some of the most amusing recitals that could be imagined. He would describe the ancient inhabitants of this continent, their dress, mode of traveling, and the animals upon which they rode; their cities, their buildings, with every particular; their mode of warfare; and also their religious worship. This he would do with as much ease, seemingly, as if he had spent his whole life with them.” – Lucy Smith, Biographical Sketches, p.345.

The reference above can be found online through Google Books, but the page number is 85.  The important item to note in her statement is the date – it was 1823. This was several years before Joseph had received permission from the angel Moroni to retrieve the buried golden plates from the ground.

While members today seem to go to any length to ignore or deny the obvious conclusion this wasn’t a mere coincidence, the fact remains that the city of Moroni on the Comoros Islands was well known to American citizens in the early nineteenth century.

We’re praying the Mormon people open their hearts and minds to these obvious warnings that something is definitely wrong.

With Love in Christ;

Michelle Grim

1 Cor 1:18