Evidence is continuing to surface that Joseph Smith, founder of Mormonism, had built quite a reputation as a local magician in rural New York prior to his supposed discovery of the golden plates and the "translation" of them to the Book of Mormon.
From the beginning, stories have circulated that placed young Smith in a family involved in "blessing crops, finding lost articles, predicting future events or prophesying, and using divine rods and seer stones." These have been vigorously disputed by Mormon leaders as hear-say and unreliable.
But in 1971 a researcher of Mormon history found county documents in the musty basement of the jail in Norwich, New York containing evidence of Smith being arrested and evidently convicted of being a "disorderly person and an imposter." Evidence presented told of his using a "certain stone" to find hidden treasure, lost articles, old gold mines, and buried money.
These court records substantiated the other accounts which Mormon leaders had tried to discount. Through letters and written records of Smith family members, neighbors and acquaintances, a picture emerges of a family involved in a variety of occult practices including animal sacrifices.
The most damning evidence involves this "peep stone." When Joseph supposedly received the Golden Plates from the angel Moroni, they came with a pair of high-tech spectacles called urim and thummim. With these he was to translate the plates into English.
However, those who helped him with the translation claim that instead, he used the peep stone placed in the crown of a hat that he pulled over his face to close out the light. With the plates safely hidden in the nearby forest, Smith would be able to see the translation through the peep stone in the hat and dictate it to an accomplice.
Thus the same peep stone that failed to find buried treasure and got Smith convicted of fraud, was the instrument used to write the book of Mormon.
Evidence of fraud continues in the book of Mormon that goes into great detail about a vast American civilization which had immigrated from the middle east hundreds of years before Christ. Modern archaeologists have found absolutely no evidence of such a civilization.
It appears safe to conclude that the whole Mormon movement is founded on the wild delusions of a young man goaded by occult spirits with which he and his family had become all too familiar.