I remember talking to Elders and Bishops and mentioning the plates, they would respond to me that they had never heard of them before. Here is the chance to expose another part of Mormonism's embarrassing past. Some Mormon scholars attempt to address this problem, but to no avail.
I first learned of the Kinderhook plates when I inadvertently stumbled across the facsimiles of the plates while reading the LDS Church history (History of the Church Vol. 5, pages 374-376). I was surprised to find such damning evidence awaiting in the Church's own history. But since then, I have realized that there is so much in LDS Church history that many Mormons do not know about, and will probably never know. Most Mormons will continue in ignorance because their church favors blind obedience over rational debate, in my opinion. The words I speak now are to only those Mormons who have dared beyond the strict guidelines of the LDS church - toward a noble search for the truth.
When I first gazed upon the facsimiles of the Kinderhook plates I was amazed by the unorganized, childlike scribbles. I thought to myself that these scrawls could not be the writings of any readable language. Examining the plates closely, I then noticed characters that appeared to be English and even Greek, many disguised by simple deviant scratches. I reasoned in my mind that these plates were a hoax. But who am I to judge? What about one of the individuals that was involved in making the plates?
On June 30, 1879, W. Fugate of Mound Station, Brown County, Illinois gave an affidavit before Jay Brown, Justice of the Peace, that revealed the hoax. In his statement he swore under oath that Robert Wiley, Bridge Whitton, and himself conspired to make the plates. Although the affidavit was thirty-six years after the fact, Mr. Fugate describes with detail how the plates were made. He mentions that Wiley and himself "... made the hieroglyphics by making impressions on beeswax and filling them with acid, old iron and lead, and bound them with a piece of hoop iron, covering them completely with the rust". He even mentions that the plates were made by Bridge Whitton, who had the resources and skill as a blacksmith (see History of the Church, Vol. 5, pg. 378, footnote, quotation from The Story of the Mormons, Linn, p. 87.).
I find it most interesting that at least one Mormon scholar tries to side-step the entire issue, implying that Joseph wasn't involved personally with the Kinderhook plates. Gilbert W. Scharffs claims that "No original document written by Joseph Smith that has been found so far makes any statement about Kinderhook plates" (The Truth About "The God Makers", Gilbert W. Scharffs, 1992, pg. 147). He may be correct in stating that there is nothing in Joseph's own handwriting, because Joseph often used scribes to record accounts as Scharffs well knows. But Gilbert fails to mention that the Times and Seasons, operated by the LDS Church and edited by John Taylor, printed the Kinderhook story and documentation in its entirety.
A particular Times and Seasons issue states that "Mr. Smith has
had those [Kinderhook] plates..." and that "...Mr. Smith will be
able to translate them" (see History of the Church, Vol. 5, pg. 373
and 374 respectively). The account recorded in the History of the
Church goes even farther to support Joseph's knowledge of the
plates. Under the entry on May 1, 1843 the following is recorded:
I have translated a portion of them, and find they contain the history of the person with whom they were found. He was a descendant of Ham, through the loins of Pharoah, king of Egypt, and that he received his kingdom from the Ruler of heaven and earth."
I would concede that the Kinderhook plates were probably not intended to fool Joseph Smith alone, but all who were interested in them. The makers of the plates were most likely after money in a time period that many ancient artifacts were being displayed and coveted by museums. Robert S. Wiley tried to sell the plates to the National Institute on November 15, 1843. This, however, does not exonerate Joseph Smith and the LDS Church from the evidence: the sworn testimony of Mr. Fugate as documented in the Church's own historical records and the Times and Seasons.
Mr. Scharffs, a Mormon scholar, points out the fact that although "The plates disappeared ... "one" came into the possession of the Chicago Historical Society in 1920. Several institutions have analyzed this plate, including Bell Telephone Laboratories in New Jersey, and they all indicate this plate is a hoax..." (The Truth About "The God Makers", Gilbert W. Scharffs, 1992, pg. 147). The Kinderhook plates, unlike the golden plates, did exist. The facsimiles of the Kinderhook plate's impressions were preserved in the LDS church records, but copies of the golden plates were not.
Mr. Scharffs' and many other Mormons that know of the Kinderhook plates can only resort to the same claims that I have been hearing since the beginning of my investigation of the LDS Church. The "real" plates are still hidden and may be revealed in the future to show their authenticity. To me, this is just another case where Mormons use blind faith instead of rationality. They are blind to the fact that Joseph Smith may very well be a fraud.
The Kinderhook Plates: