Book of Mormon Geography in North America
Elder Jeffrey R. Holland said, “…Truly rock-ribbed faith and uncompromised conviction comes with its most complete power when it engages our head as well as our heart … Truth borne by the Holy Spirit comes with, in effect, two manifestations, two witnesses if you will— the force of fact as well as the force of feeling … I believe God intends us to find and use the evidence He has given—reasons, if you will—which affirm the truthfulness of His work… Evidence is still evidence even if it is not immediately observable … “My testimony to you tonight is that the gospel is infallibly true and that a variety of infallible proofs supporting that assertion will continue to come until Jesus descends as the ultimate infallible truth of all. Our testimonies aren’t dependent on evidence—we still need that spiritual confirmation in the heart of which we have spoken—but not to seek for and not to acknowledge intellectual, documentable support for our belief when it is available is to needlessly limit an otherwise incomparably strong theological position and deny us a unique, persuasive vocabulary in the latter-day arena of religious investigation and sectarian debate. Thus armed with so much evidence of the kind we have celebrated here tonight, we ought to be more assertive than we sometimes are in defending our testimony of truth … Farrer [English cleric Austin Farrer] said: “Though argument does not create conviction, lack of it destroys belief. What seems to be proved may not be embraced; but what no one shows the ability to defend is quickly abandoned. Rational argument does not create belief, but it maintains a climate in which belief may flourish .”… May our Father in Heaven bless us and an ever-larger cadre of young scholars around the Church to do more and more to discover and delineate and declare the reasons for the hope that is in us , that like those converted Lamanites, we may with bold conviction hold up to a world that desperately needs it “the greatness of the evidences which [we have] received, ” especially of the truthfulness of the Book of Mormon, the keystone of our religion. In the name of Jesus Christ, amen.” The Greatness of the Evidence By Elder Jeffrey R. Holland August 16, 2017 (Color added) Full article HERE Video HERE
We believe the Book of Mormon is the word of God based on a spiritual confirmation. We believe secondary evidences about geography, geology, and archaeology are important and valuable as lesser issues that can help us. Below you will find many Prophets, Apostles, Leaders, Authors etc who share information about the Historicity of the Book of Mormon in North America.
1. “Let them build up a city unto my name upon the land opposite the city of Nauvoo, and let the name of Zarahemla be named upon it.” D&C 125:3
2. “…Here, between these hills, the entire power and national strength of both the Jaredites and Nephites were destroyed. By turning to the 529th and 530th pages of the Book of Mormon, you will read Mormon’s account of the last great struggle of his people, as they were encamped round this hill Cumorah. In this valley fell the remaining strength and pride of a once powerful people, the Nephites—once so highly favored of the Lord, but at that time in darkness, doomed to suffer extermination by the hand of their barbarous and uncivilized brethren. From the top of this hill, Mormon, with a few others, after the battle, gazed with horror upon the mangled remains of those who, the day before, were filled with anxiety, hope, or doubt.” Oliver Cowdery’s Letter VII Joseph Smith Papers “Letter VII,” LDS Messenger and Advocate, July 1835, 1:155–159 .
3. “And again, what do we hear? Glad tidings from Cumorah! Moroni, an angel from heaven, declaring the fulfilment of the prophets—the book to be revealed. A voice of the Lord in the wilderness of Fayette, Seneca county, declaring the three witnesses to bear record of the book! The voice of Michael on the banks of the Susquehanna, detecting the devil when he appeared as an angel of light! The voice of Peter, James, and John in the wilderness between Harmony, Susquehanna county, and Colesville, Broome county, on the Susquehanna river, declaring themselves as possessing the keys of the kingdom, and of the dispensation of the fulness of times!” D&C 128:20
4. “The whole of our journey, in the midst of so large a company of social honest and sincere men, wandering over the plains of the Nephites, recounting occasionally the history of the Book of Mormon, roving over the mounds of that once beloved people of the Lord, picking up their skulls & their bones, as a proof of its divine authenticity… During our travels we visited several of the mounds which had been thrown up by the ancient inhabitants of this country-Nephites, Lamanites, etc.” Joseph Smith Papers Letter to Emma Smith, 4 June 1834 Page 56
5. “The camp passed through Huntsville, in Randolph County, which has been appointed as one of the stakes of Zion, and is the ancient site of the City of Manti…” Millennial Star, vol. 16, p. 296 “September 25, 1838. We passed through Huntsville, Co, seat of Randolph Co, Pop. 450, and three miles further we bought 32 bu. of corn off one of the brethren who resides in this place. There are several of the brethren round about here and this is the ancient site of the City of Manti, which is spoken of in the Book of Mormon and this is appointed one of the Stakes of Zion, and it is in Randolph County, Missouri, three miles west of the county seat.” Journal of Samuel D. Tyler, filed in Church Historian’s Office. Joseph Fielding Smith, Doctrines of Salvation 3: 239 History of Joseph Smith page 296
“We came through Huntsville, the county seat of Randolph county . . . A mile and a half west of Huntsville we crossed the east branch of Chariton (River), and one and a half miles west of the river we found Ira Ames and some other brethren near the place where the city of Manti is to be built, and encamped for the night on Dark creek, six miles from Huntsville. Traveled this day seventeen miles. Distance from Kirtland, seven hundred and fifty-five miles.” Joseph Smith Documentary History of the Church, 3:10:144:1
Joseph Smith accompanied several Church members in exploring the area around Lyman Wight’s northern Missouri home. In his journal, A. Jenson wrote: “The [Kirtland] camp passed through Huntsville, in Randolph County, which has been appointed as one of the stakes of Zion, and is the ancient site of the City of Manti.” A. Jenson, Historical Record, Book 1, p. 601 Millennial Star 16:296
6. “In this important and interesting book the history of ancient America is unfolded, from its first settlement by a colony that came from the Tower of Babel at the confusion of languages to the beginning of the fifth century of the Christian era. We are informed by these records that America in ancient times has been inhabited by two distinct races of people. The first were called Jaredites and came directly from the Tower of Babel. The second race came directly from the city of Jerusalem about six hundred years before Christ. They were principally Israelites of the descendants of Joseph. The Jaredites were destroyed about the time that the Israelites came from Jerusalem, who succeeded them in the inheritance of the country. The principal nation of the second race fell in battle towards the close of the fourth century. The remnant are the Indians that now inhabit this country…” Wentworth Letter reprinted in Ensign July 2002
7. Joseph said that “the Book of Mormon is a record of the forefathers of our western tribes of Indians . . . By it we learn that our western tribes of Indians are descendants from that Joseph that was sold into Egypt, and that the land of America is a promised land unto them.” Joseph Smith’s Letter to The American Revivalist Feb 2, 1833 (Quoted in Dean C. Jessee, The Personal Writings of Joseph Smith (Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Co., 1984), p. 273)
8 . “He told me of a sacred record which was written on plates of gold, I saw in the vision the place where they were deposited, he said the Indians were the literal descendants of Abraham…” Joseph Smith Journal, November 9, 1835 ; The Joseph Smith Papers: Journals Volume 1:1832-1839(Salt Lake City: Church Historian’s Press, 2008), 88-89.
9. “From this time forth, Joseph continued to receive instructions from the Lord, and we continued to get the children together every evening, for the purpose of listening while he gave us a relation of the same. I presume our family presented an aspect as singular as any that ever lived upon the face of the earth–all seated in a circle, father, mother, sons, and daughters, and giving the most profound attention to a boy, eighteen years of age, who had never read the Bible through in his life: he seemed much less inclined to the perusal of books than any of the rest of our children, but far more given to meditation and deep study… 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 Mack Smith, History, 1844–1845 Book 4 Joseph Smith Papers 10.
10. “Wherefore, it is an abridgment of the record of the people of Nephi, and also of the Lamanites—Written to the Lamanites, who are a remnant of the house of Israel;” BofM Title Page
11. ” You shall go unto the Lamanites and preach my gospel unto them;… and no man knoweth where the city Zion shall be built, but it shall be given hereafter. Behold, I say unto you that it shall be on the borders by the Lamanites. D&C 28:8-9
12. “Thus ended our first Indian mission, in which we had preached the Gospel in its fullness and distributed the record of their forefathers among three tribes… west of Missouri.” Autobiography of Parley P. Pratt, p 56-61
13. “I accordingly went down, and met Keokuk, Kis-Ku-Kosh, Appenoose, and about one hundred chiefs and braves of those tribes (Sac, Fox), with their families.” … and instructed them in many things which the Lord had revealed unto me concerning their fathers, and the promises that were made concerning them in the Book of Mormon.” Joseph Smith Papers; History, 1838–1856, volume C-1 Addenda page 10-11
14. “I do not believe that the classrooms or the pulpits of our Church are for laboratory purposes in which to experiment with new doctrines and speculative notions. They are exclusively for the use of those who are willing to convert men and women and boys and girls to the truth. . . . I do not believe we should give credence to the highly speculative theories about Book of Mormon geography. I do not believe that there were two Hill Cumorahs, one in Central America and the other one up in New York, for the convenience of the Prophet Joseph Smith, so that the poor boy would not have to walk clear to Central America to get the gold plates. I do not believe we can be good Latter-day Saints and question the integrity of Joseph Smith. I do not believe we can be good Latter-day Saints and question the testimony of the eleven witnesses of the Book of Mormon. I do not believe you have a testimony of the truth if you question the accuracy of the translation of the Book of Mormon.” Mark E. Petersen LDS Conference Reports, Sunday afternoon, April 5, 1953
15. “…This modernistic theory of necessity, in order to be consistent, must place the waters of Ripliancum and the Hill Cumorah some place within the restricted territory of Central America, notwithstanding the teachings of the Church to the contrary for upwards of 100 years. Because of this theory some members of the Church have become confused and greatly disturbed in their faith in the Book of Mormon. It is for this reason that evidence is here presented to show that it is not only possible that these places could be located as the Church has held during the past century, but that in very deed such is the case… It is known that the Hill Cumorah where the Nephites were destroyed is the hill where the Jaredites were also destroyed. This hill was known to the Jaredites as Ramah. It was approximately near to the waters of Ripliancum, which the Book of Ether says, “by interpretation, is large, or to exceed all…
It must be conceded that this description fits perfectly the land of Cumorah in New York, as it has been known since the visitation of Moroni to the Prophet Joseph Smith, for the hill is in the proximity of the Great Lakes and also in the land of many rivers and fountains. Moreover, the Prophet Joseph Smith himself is on record, definitely declaring the present hill called Cumorah to be the exact hill spoken of in the Book of Mormon. Further, the fact that all of his associates from the beginning down have spoken of it as the identical hill where Mormon and Moroni hid the records, must carry some weight. It is difficult for a reasonable person to believe that such men as Oliver Cowdery. Brigham Young, Parley P. Pratt, Orson Pratt, David Whitmer, and many others, could speak frequently of the Spot where the Prophet Joseph Smith obtained the plates as the Hill Cumorah, and not be corrected by the Prophet, if that were not the fact. That they did speak of this hill in the days of the Prophet in this definite manner is an established record of history.” Doctrines of Salvation Joseph Fielding Smith Chapter 12
16. “On the top of the mound were stones which presented the appearance of three altars having been erected one above the other, according to the ancient order; and the remains of bones were strewn over the surface of the ground. The brethren procured a shovel and a hoe, and removing the earth to the depth of about one foot, discovered the skeleton of a man, almost entire, and between his ribs the stone point of a Lamanitish arrow, which evidently produced his death. Elder Burr Riggs retained the arrow. The contemplation of the scenery around us produced peculiar sensations in our bosoms; and subsequently the visions of the past being opened to my understanding by the Spirit of the Almighty, I discovered that the person whose skeleton was before us was a white Lamanite, a large, thick-set man, and a man of God. His name was Zelph. He was a warrior and chieftain under the great prophet Onandagus, who was known from the Hill Cumorah, or eastern sea to the Rocky mountains. The curse was taken from Zelph, or, at least, in part-one of his thigh bones was broken by a stone flung from a sling, while in battle, years before his death. He was killed in battle by the arrow found among his ribs, during the last great struggle of the Lamanites and Nephites.” Joseph Smith Papers History, 1838–1856, volume A-1 [23 December 1805–30 August 1834], Page 483
17. “The United States is the promised land foretold in the Book of Mormon—a place where divine guidance directed inspired men to create the conditions necessary for the Restoration of the gospel of Jesus Christ.” Elder L. Tom Perry Ensign Dec. 2012
18. Other scriptures that reference the Book of Mormon in North America. A. Mormon 6:6; B. D&C 128:20 ;C. D&C 10:48-52 ; D. Triple combination Index: (look under America, American) -prophets blessed land in prayers: D&C 10:49–50 -America to be free: D&C 10:51 -Zion to be built upon American continent: A of F 1:10 E. Ether 13 ; In the Introduction, Ether speaks of a New Jerusalem to be built in America by the seed of Joseph.
19. “I rejoice in the goodness and mercy of the God of Israel In Preserving the precious Book of Mormon & bringing it to light in our day & generation. It teaches the honest & humble mind the great things of God that were performed in the land of promise now called America in Ancient days and also the great things of God that are nigh even at the doors.” Wilford Woodruff, Journal, 2 November 1845
20. “Both the Nephite and Jaredite civilizations fought their final great wars of extinction at and near the Hill Cumorah (or Ramah as the Jaredites termed it), which hill is located between Palmyra and Manchester in the western part of the state of New York. It was here that Moroni hid up the gold plates from which the Book of Mormon was translated. (Morm. 6; Ether 15.) Joseph Smith, Oliver Cowdery, and many of the early brethren, who were familiar with all the circumstances attending the coming forth of the Book of Mormon in this dispensation, have left us pointed testimony as to the identity and location of Cumorah or Ramah .” (Doctrines of Salvation, vol. 3, pp. 232-241.) (Bruce R. McConkie, Mormon Doctrine “CUMORAH,” 1966, p. 175)
21. “We visited the Hill Cumorah and were accorded the courtesy of going thereon by the wife of Mr. George Sampson, a brother of Admiral Wm. Sampson, who before his death owned the property. When we went up there and looked around, we felt that we were standing on holy ground. The brethren located, as near as they thought was possible, the place from which the plates of the Book of Mormon were taken by the Prophet. We were delighted to be there. Looking over the surrounding country we remembered that two great races of people had wound up their existence in the vicinity, had fought their last fight, and that hundreds of thousands had been slain within sight of that hill. Evidence of the great battles that have been fought there in days gone by are manifest in the numerous spear and arrow-heads that have been found by farmers while plowing in that neighborhood. We were fortunate enough to obtain a few of the arrowheads .” (George Albert Smith, Conference Report, April 1906, Third Day—Morning Session p. 56)
22. “Aug. 11, Wed: President McCune and I went early to the Grove. Later we were conveyed by auto to the Hill Cumorah by Brother Bean. We climbed the hill and traversed it back and fore and examined it with interest and care. It is the largest of the many glacial drumlins of the locality, and is the most prominent of all the elevations in the neighborhood. Aside from the fact that the plates of the Book of Mormon were taken from this hill, I was greatly interested in looking from its summit over the surrounding region and in contemplating the tremendous battle-scenes of the past, whereby first the Jaredites and later the Nephites were exterminated as nations. I believe the Book of Mormon account without reservation or modification. I believe, also, and express it as my personal conviction, that many ancient records, possibly those from which Mormon made his abridgment, are still concealed in that hill. I believe also that they will be brought forth in the Lord’s due time, and that until that time no man will succeed in finding them.” (James E. Talmage Journal Entries, 1920, pg 132-133; Special Collections, Harold B. Lee Library, BYU: MSS 229, Box 6, Folder 1, Journal 23.)
23. This article on Cumorah by President Ivins was in celebration of the purchase of the Hill Cumorah by the LDS church. “There have been some differences of opinion in regard to it, and in order that I might be correct in the statements which I make I have this morning finished a short manuscript which I would like to read—the first time. I believe, in my experience, that I have ever addressed a congregation in this manner, and I do it for the purpose stated.
–The purchase of this hill, which President Grant has announced, is an event of more than ordinary importance to the membership of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. The memories of the remote past which cluster round this sacred spot, its close association with the opening of the present gospel dispensation, which has resulted in bringing together this congregation of people, for without it this tabernacle would not have been erected, nor would we have been gathered here in worship today, and the thought which we entertain of the possibilities which its bosom may unfold, make the acquisition of this hill almost an epochal accomplishment in the history of the Church.
-The passages which I have quoted from the Book of Mormon and the more extended discussion of this subject by Elder B. H. Roberts which was published in The Deseret News of March 3 definitely established the following facts: That the hill Cumorah, and the hill Ramah are identical. That it was around this hill that the armies of both the Jaredites and Nephites fought their great last battles. That it was in this hill that Mormon deposited all of the sacred records which had been entrusted to his care by Ammaron, except the abridgment which he had made from the plates of Nephi, which were delivered into the hands of his son, Moroni. We know positively that it was in this hill that Moroni deposited the abridgment made by his father, and his own abridgment of the record of the Jaredites, and that it was from this hill that Joseph Smith obtained possession of them.
-According to the Book of Mormon, many hundreds of thousands of people fell in battle around this hill and in the immediate vicinity. It was here that two once-powerful nations were exterminated so far as their national existence was concerned. It was here that these nations gathered together for their last great struggles.
-All of these incidents to which I have referred, my brethren and sisters, are very closely associated with this particular spot in the state of New York. Therefore I feel, as I said in the beginning of my remarks, that the acquisition of that spot of ground is more than an incident in the history of the Church; it is an epoch—an epoch which in my opinion is fraught with that which may become of greater interest to the Latter-day Saints than that which has already occurred. We know that all of these records, all the sacred records of the Nephite people, were deposited by Mormon in that hill. That incident alone is sufficient to make it the sacred and hallowed spot that it is to us. I thank God that, in a way which seems to have been providential, it has come into the possession of the Church .” (“The Hill Cumorah” by President Anthony W. Ivins, Improvement Era, 1928, Vol. Xxxi. June, 1928 No. 8 .)
“Though Ivins acknowledged that Nephite and Jaredite battles occurred in Palmyra, having served 15 years in Mexico, he also believed Book of Mormon lands were in Mexico:
-Among the many important subjects that have been brought to our attention I think there is no item of more importance than the subject that was discussed by President Ivins in tracing the records of the Nephites from the centers of their civilization northward, and the long pilgrimage of the people as they moved northward until they came to the land of Ripliancum, the land of many waters, and the Hill Cumorah. I was deeply interested in what he said, and I believe that his remarks make a very important contribution, not only to this conference, but to the literature of the Church. It will at least be preserved in the minutes of this conference, and will be of permanent record.” (Brigham H. Roberts, Conference Report, April 1928, Third Day—Morning Meeting, p.107) Biography: President Anthony W. Ivins was born on Sept. 16, 1852, at Toms River, NJ. Served in Mexico from 1882 – 1907. He was ordained an apostle on Oct. 6, 1907 by Pres. Joseph F. Smith. Pres. Ivins was sustained as second counselor in the First Presidency Mar. 10, 1921, at the age of 68 and sustained as first counselor in the First Presidency May 28, 1925, at the age of 72. He died Sep. 23, 1934 at Salt Lake City, UT. ( Joseph Fielding Smith, Essentials in Church History, 1963, p. 688)
24. “Third, the hill from which the Book of Mormon plates were obtained by Joseph Smith is definitely known. In the days of the Prophet this hill was known among the people as Cumorah. This is a fixed point in Book of Mormon later history. There is a controversy, however, about the Hill Cumorah-not about the location where the Book of Mormon plates were found, but whether it is the hill under that name near which Nephite events took place. A name, says one, may be applied to more than one hill; and plates containing the records of a people, sacred things, could be moved from place to place by divine help. However, the hill known today as Cumorah in northern New York is a fixed, known point.” (John A. Widtsoe A Book of Mormon Treasury: Selections from the Pages of the Improvement Era, Salt Lake City: Bookcraft, 1959, p. 128)
25. “Millennia ago he declared: “There shall none come into this land [he was speaking of America] save they shall be brought by the hand of the Lord… In the western part of the state of New York near Palmyra is a prominent hill known as the “hill Cumorah.” ( Morm. 6:6 .) On July twenty-fifth of this year, as I stood on the crest of that hill admiring with awe the breathtaking panorama which stretched out before me on every hand, my mind reverted to the events which occurred in that vicinity some twenty-five centuries ago—events which brought to an end the great Jaredite nation… Thus perished at the foot of Cumorah the remnant of the once mighty Jaredite nation, of whom the Lord had said, “There shall be none greater … upon all the face of the earth.” ( Ether 1:43 .)… This second civilization to which I refer, the Nephites, flourished in America between 600 B.C. and A.D. 400. Their civilization came to an end for the same reason, at the same place, and in the same manner as did the Jaredites…
The tragic fate of the Jaredite and the Nephite civilizations is proof positive that the Lord meant it when he said that this “is a land of promise; and whatsoever nation shall possess it shall serve God, or they shall be swept off when the fulness of his wrath shall come upon them. And the fulness of his wrath cometh upon them when they are ripened in iniquity.” ( Ether 2:9 .)
This information, wrote Moroni, addressing himself to us who today occupy this land, “cometh unto you, O ye Gentiles” (now, Gentiles is the term used by the Book of Mormon prophets to refer to the present inhabitants of America and to the peoples of the old world from which they came)…
Now my beloved brethren and sisters everywhere, both members of the Church and nonmembers, I bear you my personal witness that I know that the things I have presented to you today are true—both those pertaining to past events and those pertaining to events yet to come. The issue we face is clear and well defined. The choice is ours. The question is: Shall we of this dispensation repent and obey the laws of the God of the land, who is Jesus Christ, or shall we continue to defy them until we ripen in iniquity?
That we will repent and obey and thereby qualify to receive the blessings promised to the righteous in this land, I humbly pray in the name of Jesus Christ, our Redeemer. Amen.” America’s Destiny Marion G. Romney Oct 1975
26. “The far west, as the section of country from the Mississippi to the Rocky Mountains may justly be styled, is not only distant from the Atlantic States, but different. Its principle river, running rapidly from the 48th to the 39th degree of north latitude, is always rily, always wearing away its banks and always making new channels: It is rightly named Missouri; for in plain English, it looks like the waters of misery, -or troubled water:-even as the sea which the prophet said, Casts up mire and dirt. With the exception of the skirts of timber upon the streams of water, this region of country is one continued field, or prairie, (as the French have it, meaning meadows,) and their is something ancient as well as grand about it, too; for while the eye takes in a large scope of clear field, or extensive plains, decorated with here and there a patch of timber, like the orchards which beautify the farms in the east, the mind goes back to the day, when the Jaredites were in their glory upon this choice land above all others, and comes on till they, and even the Nephites, were destroyed for their wickedness : Here pause and look to the east, and read the words of the prophet: Wo to the crown of pride, to the drunkards of Ephraim, whose glorious beauty is a fading flower, which is on the head of the fat valleys of them that are overcome with wine! Behold, the Lord hath a mighty and strong one, which as a tempest of hail and a destroying storm, as a flood of mighty waters overflowing, shall cast down to the earth with the hand.-The crown of pride, the drunkards of Ephraim, shall be trodden under feet: and the glorious beauty, which is on the head of the fat valley, shall be a fading flower, and as the hasty fruit before the summer; which when he that looketh upon it seeth, while it is yet in his hand he eateth it up. In that day shall the Lord of hosts be for a crown of glory, and for a diadem of beauty, unto the residue of his people, and for a spirit of judgment to him that sitteth in judgment, and for strength to them that turn the battle to the gate…
To return: this beautiful region of country is now mostly, excepting Arkansas and Missouri, the land of Joseph or the Indians, as they are called, and embraces three fine climates: First, like that of New-York; second, like Missouri, neither northern nor southern; and third, like the Carolinas. This place may be called the centre [center] of America; it being about an equal distance from Maine, to Nootka sound; and from the gulf of St. Lawrence to the gulf of California; yea, and about the middle of the continent from cape Horn, south, to the head land at Baffin’s Bay, north. The world will never value the land of Desolation, as it is called in the book of Mormon , for any thing more than hunting ground, for want of timber and mill-seats: The Lord to the contrary notwithstanding, declares it to be the land of Zion which is the land of Joseph, blessed by him, for the precious things of heaven…” Editor WW Phelps Evening and Morning Star Vol. 1 No. 5 October 1832 Page 71
27. According to Parley P. Pratt, in 1831 some early elders of the Church were discussing the Book of Mormon with the Delaware Indians of Kansas, the first such meeting with Indians since the Restoration. The spokesman was Oliver Cowdery, who included in his remarks the following:
“Once the red men were many; they occupied the country from sea to sea–from the rising to the setting sun; the whole land Thousands of moons ago, when red men’s forefathers dwelt in peace and possessed this whole land the Great Spirit talked with them, and revealed His law and His will and much knowledge to their wise men and prophets. This they wrote in a Book, . . . written on plates of gold and handed down from father to son for many ages and generations. . . . This Book, which contained these things, was hid in the earth by Moroni, in a hill called by him, Cumorah, which hill is now in the state of New York, near the village of Palmyra, in Ontario County.” Autobiography of Parley P. Pratt, SLC, 1938, pp. 55-56
28. Here is a statement made by the Lord in a revelation that was given to Joseph Smith that is not contained in the Doctrine and Covenants: “Verily, Verily, saith the Lord, your Redeemer, even Jesus Christ . . . Verily, I say upon you, that the wisdom of man, in his fallen state, knoweth not the purposes and the privileges of my holy priesthood, but ye shall know when ye receive a fulness by reason of the anointing: it is my will, that in time, ye should take unto you wives of the Lamanites and Nephites, that their posterity may become white, delightsome and just, for even now their females are more virtuous than the gentiles.” Revelation given to Joseph Smith, given west of Jackson County, Missouri, July 17, 1831, contained in a letter from W. W. Phelps to Brigham Young, dated August 12, 1861. It is in the Joseph Smith Collection, Church History Archives
29. Ken Godfrey notes in his 1989 article (“Joseph Smith, The Hill Cumorah, and Book of Mormon Geography: A Historical Study, 1823-1844) “that when an ancient stone house, including household furniture, was found imbedded in the earth in Rowan County, North Carolina, the editor of The Star commented on the event: “No people that have lived on this continent, since the flood, understood many of the arts and sciences better than the Jaredites and Nephites, whose brief history is sketched in the Book of Mormon. The facts following from the Star of the West is not only proof of their skill but it is good proof to those that want evidence that the Book of Mormon is true.” (Vol. 2, June) Again when “an artificial peach and pear tree cut out of stone with a complete imitation of the stem and blossom end,” was found in another part of the United States this too was, in the same article, cited as proof of the truthfulness of the Book of Mormon. In those early issues of the Star each new archaeological discovery in either North or South America was dutifully cited as proof that the Book of Mormon was “a history of those groups who had peopled this continent” (see Vol. 1 February 1833). A Vol. 2 July 1833 article declared that the book unfolded “the history of the first inhabitants that settled this continent.” When a fifty-foot fissure in a rock in Virginia was found full of bees, the editor of the Star reported that fact as “proof that the Jaredites brought bees with them to the American continent.” Even the W. W. Phelps-authored poem, “The Red Man” identified the American Indian as having descended from Jacob through Ephraim. W. Phelps, Editor Evening and Morning Star, February-July 1833 Quoted in “ Step by Step through the Book of Mormon ” by Alan C. Miner
W.W. Phelps-authored poem, “The Red Man”
O stop and tell me, Red Man,
Who are ye? why you roam?
And how you get your living?
Have you no God; – no home?
With stature straight and portly,
And decked in native pride,
With feathers, paints, and broaches,
He willingly replied: –
“I once was
When Jacob for me pray’d;
But oh! How blessings vanish,
When man from God has stray’d!
Before your nation knew us,
Some thousand moons ago,
Our fathers fell in darkness,
And wander’d to and fro.
And long they’ve liv’d by hunting,
Instead of work and arts,
And so our race has dwindled,
To idle Indian hearts.
Yet hope within us lingers,
As if the Spirit spoke: –
‘He’ll come for your redemption,
And break your Gentile yoke:
And all your captive brothers,
From every clime shall come,
And quit their savage customs,
To live with God at home.’
Then joy will fill our bosoms,
And blessings crown our days,
To live in pure religion,
And sing our Maker’s praise.”
30. Dan Vogel writes that shortly after the Book of Mormon’s publication, David Marks visited the Ohio mounds and like many wondered who had built them. When he was told that the Book of Mormon gave a history of them, and of their authors, he became anxious to get a copy even though he doubted its historicity. (Dan Vogel, Indian Origins and the Book of Mormon, SLC: Signature Books, 1986, p. 32)
The 1834 Unitarian (Boston) reported that the Mormons “Suppose the mounds throughout the western states, which have heretofore excited so much curiosity, are the remains of the cities of the Nephites and Lamanites.” Edward Stuart Abdey wrote in 1835 that “the mounds of earth, which, as they now exist in that part of the country, have given rise to so much interest and speculation, are referred to, by the preachers of the Mormon faith, as proofs of these theocratic tribes.” (Dan Vogel, Indian Origins and the Book of Mormon, SLC: Signature Books, 1986, p. 32)
31. In 1835 Oliver Cowdery wrote a series of letters to W. W. Phelps, the editor of the Messenger and Advocate. These were titled, Letter I, Letter II. Letter III, Letter IV, Letter V, Letter VI, Letter VII, and Letter VIII. (Link directs you to the Joseph Smith Papers Online) The Messenger and Advocate was published with the direction and approval of Joseph Smith. In 1841 these same letters were published in Nauvoo in the Times and Seasons (V. 2, p. 379). These letters were again published in The Improvement Era (1899, Vol. 2, pp. 729-734).
Oliver Cowdery wrote that the Ephraimites and the Lamanites were the “original settlers of this continent,” and that “an ancient prophet caused the plates from which the Book of Mormon was translated to be buried nearly two thousand years ago, in which is now called Ontario County, New York.
In this same issue, W. W. Phelps wrote that it was “by that book [the Book of Mormon] I learned that the poor Indians of America were of the remnants of Israel.” Many other times editor Phelps identified the land of America as being the place where at least some Book of Mormon history took place, including the last battles of both the Jaredites and the Nephites (see Messenger and Advocate, vol. 2, October 1835 , and the letter of W. W. Phelps to Oliver Cowdery in that same issue.) Oliver Cowdery Latter Day Saints’ Messenger and Advocate, July 1835, pp. 158-159
“[In regards to the hill Cumorah in New York] At about one mile west rises another ridge of less height, running parallel with the former . . . between these hills, the entire power and national strength of both the Jaredites and Nephites were destroyed.
. . . By turning to the 529th and 530th pages of the Book of Mormon you will read Mormon’s account of the last great struggle as they were encamped round this hill Cumorah. In this valley fell the remaining strength and pride of a once powerful people, the Nephites–once so highly favored of the Lord, but at that time in darkness, doomed to suffer extermination by the hand of their barbarous and uncivilized brethren. From the top of this hill, Mormon, with a few others, after the battle, gazed with horror upon the mangled remains of those who, the day before, were filled with anxiety, hope, or doubt. A few had fled to the south, who were hunted down by the victorious party.
. . . This hill, by the Jaredites, was called Ramah; by it, or around it, pitched the famous army of Coriantumr their tents. Coriantumr was the last king of the Jaredites. The opposing army were to the west, and in this same valley, and near by, from day to day, did that mighty race spill their blood . . . In this same spot, in full view from the top of this same hill, one may gaze with astonishment upon the ground which was twice covered with the dead and dying . . .” Letter VII and Oliver Cowdery Latter Day Saints’ Messenger and Advocate, October 1835
“I have now given sufficient on the Hill Cumorah–it has a singular and imposing appearance for that country, and must excite the curious inquiry of every lover of the Book of Mormon.” “Soon after this visit to Cumorah, a gentleman from the south part of the state, (Chenango County), employed our brother [Joseph] as a common laborer.” W. Phelps Latter Day Saints’ Messenger and Advocate 2, October 1835, p. 193
The following words by W. W. Phelps are revealing concerning the extent of geographical knowledge of the world at the time of Joseph Smith. He writes:
“The parts of the globe that are known [today] probably contain 700 millions of inhabitants, and those parts which are unknown may be supposed to contain more than four times as many more. . . . There may be a continent at the North Pole, or more than 1300 square miles, containing thousands of millions of Israeli tes.” W.W. Phelps Latter Day Saints’ Messenger and Advocate, November 1835
W.W. Phelps, in letter twelve to Oliver Cowdery, writing about the Hill Cumorah, said: “I want to drop an idea or two about Cumorah. Yes, Cumorah which must become as famous among the Latter-day Saints as Sinai was among the former saints… the history of the first settlers of America; even the book of Mormon, preparatory gathering from Cumorah: Glorious spot… Cumorah, the artificial hill of North America is well calculated to stand in this generation as a monument of marvelous works and wonder. Around that mount died millions of the Jaredites; yea, there ended one of the greatest nations of this earth. In that day, her inhabitants spread from sea to sea, and enjoyed national greatness and glory, nearly fifteen hundred years . . . An angel came down from the regions of glory and told that a record was hid in Cumorah.” Latter Day Saint’s Messenger and Advocate, July 1836, p. 341.
32. [Regarding “Tower Hill” north of Far West, Missouri] We pursued our source up the river, mostly through timber, for about eighteen miles, when we arrived at Colonel Lyman Wight’s home. He lives at the foot of Tower Hill (a name I gave the place in consequence of the remains of an old Nephite altar or tower that stood there), where we camped for the Sabbath.
Note* George W. Robinson, a scribe of Joseph Smith who was with him at the time, writes: “We next kept [traveling] up the river mostly in the timber for ten miles, until we came to Colonel Lyman Wright’s who lives at the foot of Tower Hill. A name appropriated by President Smith in consequence of the remains of an old Nephitish Altar and Tower where we camped for the Sabbath. (Scott H. Faulring ed., An American Prophet’s Record: The Diaries and Journals of Joseph Smith , SLC: Signature Books, 1989, p. 184.) 1838 Joseph Smith, Jr. History of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, 3:34-35 Quoted in Step by Step through the Book of Mormon by Alan C. Miner
33. “The Book of Mormon is a record of the aborigines of this continent [America] . . . it gives an account of the first settlement of this land by the seed of Israel.” 1841 “Dialogues on Mormonism,” Times and Seasons, Vol. 2, July 15, 1841
34. “We shall now introduce much circumstantial evidence, from American antiquities, and from the traditions of the natives, etc.
First, says Mr. Boudinot: “It is said among their principal or beloved men, that they have it handed down from their ancestors, that the book which the white people have, was once theirs: that while they had it they prospered exceedingly, etc. They also say, that their fathers were possessed of an extraordinary Divine Spirit, by which they foretold future events, and controlled the common course of nature; and this they transmitted to their offspring, on condition of their obeying the sacred laws; that they did, by these means, bring down showers of blessings upon their beloved people; but that this power, for a long time past, had entirely ceased.” Colonel James Smith, in his journal, while a prisoner among the natives, says: “They have a tradition, that in the beginning of this continent, the angels or heavenly inhabitants, as they call them, frequently visited the people, and talked with their forefathers, and gave directions how to pray.”
Mr. Boudinot, in his able work, remarks concerning their language: “Their language, in its roots, idiom, and particular construction, appears to have the whole genius of the Hebrew; and what is very remarkable, and well worthy of serious attention, has most of the peculiarities of that language.” There is a tradition related by an aged Indian, of the Stockbridge tribe, that their fathers were once in possession of a “Sacred Book,” which was handed down from generation to generation; and at last hid in the earth, since which time they had been under the feet of their enemies. But these oracles were to be restored to them again; and then they would triumph over their enemies, and regain their rights and privileges.” Quoted from A Voice of Warning An introduction to the faith and doctrine of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Chapter IV by Parley P. Pratt
35. There is a book review in the Times and Seasons of Charles Blancher Thompson’s book, Evidence in Proof of the Book of Mormon, printed in Batavia, New York, in 1841. Concerning mention of antiquities of the eastern United States in the book, the reviewer states: “the people whose history is contained in the Book of Mormon, are the authors of these works.” 1842 Times and Seasons 1 Jan. 1842, pp. 640-644
36. “In this important and interesting book the history of ancient America is unfolded, from its first settlement . . . to the beginning of the fifth century of the Christian era. We are informed by these records that America in ancient times has been inhabited by two distinct races of people. . . . The principal nation of the second race fell in battle towards the close of the fourth century. The remnant are the Indians that now inhabit this country.” 1842 Joseph Smith, Jr The Times and Seasons 3 (1 March 1842), pp. 707-8 History of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints 4:537-8
37. John Taylor states that the “Jaredites probably made the present prairies [of America] by extensive cultivation.” John Taylor Times and Seasons, December 15, 1844, pp. 746-747
38. “Brother Mills mentioned in his song, that crossing the Plains with hand-carts was one of the greatest events that ever transpired in this Church. I will admit that it is an important event, successfully testing another method for gathering Israel, but its importance is small in comparison with the visitation of the angel of God to the Prophet Joseph, and with the reception of the sacred records from the hand of Moroni at the hill Cumorah.
How does it compare with the vision that Joseph and others had, when they went into a cave in the hill Cumorah, and saw more records than ten men could carry? There were books piled up on tables, book upon book. Those records this people will yet have, if they accept the Book of Mormon and observe it’s precepts, and keep the commandments.” Heber C. Kimball Journal of Discourses, 4:105, September 28, 1856
39. “The Hill Cumorah is situated in western New York. . . . It is distinguished as the great battlefield on which, and near which, two powerful nations were concentrated with all their forces, men, women and children, and fought till hundreds of thousands on both sides were hewn down, and left to molder upon the ground. . . . The Hill Cumorah is remarkable also as being the hill on which and around which, a still more ancient nation perished, called Jaredites. . . . Millions fought millions, until the Hill Ramah, and the land round about, was soaked with blood.” 1866 Orson Pratt Millennial Star 28 (16 June 1866)
40. “The hill Cumorah, with the surrounding vicinity, is distinguished as the great battlefield on which, and near which, two powerful nations were concentrated with all their forces. Men, women and children fought till hundreds of thousands on both sides were hewn down, and left to molder upon the ground. . . .
These new plates were given to Moroni to finish the history. And all the ancient plates, Mormon deposited in Cumorah, about three hundred and eighty-four years after Christ. When Moroni, about thirty-six years after, made the deposit of the book entrusted to him, he was, without doubt, inspired to select a department of the hill separate from the great depository of the numerous volumes hid up by his father. The particular place in the hill where Moroni secreted the book, was revealed, by the angel, to the prophet Joseph Smith, to whom the volume was delivered in September, A.D. 1827. But the grand repository of all the numerous records of the ancient nations of the western continent, was located in another department of the hill, and it’s contents under the charge of holy angels, until the day should come for them to be transferred to the sacred temple of Zion.” 1866 Orson Pratt Millennial Star (28 (27): 417)
In relation to these records, Orson Pratt commented in 1873: “But will these things be brought to light? Yes. The records, now slumbering in the hill Cumorah, will be brought forth by the power of God, to fulfil the words of our text, that ‘the knowledge of God shall cover the earth, as the waters cover the deep.'” (Orson Pratt, May 18, 1873, in Journal of Discourses 16:57)
41. [Heber C. Kimball] “prophesied that when the final last struggle came to this nation it would be at the Hill Cumorah where both of the former Nations [Jaredite and Nephite] were destroyed” (abt. Heber C. Kimball) Wilford Woodruff’s Journal 6:305, December 17, 1866
42. In 1869, Wilford Woodruff recorded the following about a meeting of the Salt Lake City School of the Prophets: “Brigham Young said in relation to Joseph Smith’s returning the plates of the Book of Mormon that he did not return them to the box from where he had received [them]. But he went into a cave in the Hill Cumora [sic] with Oliver Cowdery and deposited those plates upon a table or shelf and in that room were deposited a large amount of gold plates, containing sacred records, and when they first visited that room the sword was drawn from the scabbord [sic] and lain upon the table and a messenger who was the keeper of the room informed them that that sword would never be returned to its scabbord until [sic] the Kingdom of God was established upon the earth and until it reigned triumphant over evy [sic] Joseph Smith said the cave contained tons of choice treasures and records.”
43. In 1873, apostles Brigham Young Jr. and George Q. Cannon visited the New York Hill Cumorah and wrote up an account of the same which was published. “Undoubtedly great changes had occurred in the appearance of the surrounding country[side] since the days when Mormon and [his son] Moroni had trod the spot where we stood. Still we could readily understand, even now, how admirable a position this would be [from the hilltop] for a general to occupy in watching and directing the movements of armies and in scrutinizing the position of an enemy.
Around Cumorah is yet a land of many waters, rivers and fountains [just] as Mormon said it was in his day. Our emotions on treading on this sacred hill were of the most peculiar character. They were indescribable. This was the hill Ramah of the Jaredites. In this vicinity, Coriantumr and Shiz, with the people whom they led, fought their last battle. For this great battle they were four years preparing, gathering the people together from all parts of the land, and arming men and women, and even children. The battle lasted eight days, and the result was the complete extermination of the Jaredite nation, none being left but the Prophet Ether and Coriantumr, who succeeded in slaying his mortal enemy Shiz. [Ether] and Coriantumr alone, of all that mighty race which had flourished upwards of fifteen hundred, were left. Who can imagine the feelings which he must have had on such an occasion?
From the summit of this hill, Mormon and his great son Moroni had also witnessed the gathering of hosts of the Nephites, and the dusky and myriad legions of their deadly enemies, the Lamanites. Around this hill they had marshaled their forces–their twenty-three divisions of ten thousand men each, commanded by the most skillful of their generals, all to be swept away except Moroni.
It was here that [Mormon] hid the abridgement which he made of the records [of his people], and which is know known by his name [Book of Mormon]. And it was here, thirty-six years after this tremendous battle, that his son Moroni also hid his abridgment of the book of Ether, and the record which he had made from which we learn the fate of his father, Mormon, and his other companions.
It was to this spot that about fourteen hundred years after these events, Joseph Smith, the Prophet, was led by Moroni in person, and here the records, engraved on plates, were committed to him for translation. Who could tread this ground and reflect upon these mighty events, and not be filled with indescribable emotion?” Brigham Young, Jr. and George Q. Cannon The Latter-Day Saints’ Millennial Star,(35 (33): 513-16), Tuesday, August 19th, 1873
44. “It was likewise stated to me by David Whitmer in the year 1877 that Oliver Cowdery told him that the Prophet Joseph and himself had seen this room and that it was filled with treasures, and on the table therein were the breastplate and the sword of Laban, as well as the portion of gold plates not yet translated, and that these plates were bound by three small gold rings, and would also be translated, as was the first portion in the days of Joseph. When they were translated much useful information will be brought to light. But till that day arrives, no Rochester adventurers shall ever see them or the treasures, although science and mineral rods testify that they are there. At the proper time when greed, selfishness and corruption shall cease to reign in the hearts of the people, these vast hoards of hidden treasure shall be brought forth to be used for the cause of the kingdom of Christ.
Before leaving the prophet Mormon standing on the hill in his lamentation, let us still extend the vision over the great battlefield . . . Only for a moment imagine that we see the camp just before the great battle: twenty-three camps each of 10,000 with a general at their head, would be required for the 230,000 soldiers. While I was standing upon this spot of ground [the New York Hill Cumorah] about three years ago, my mind contrasted the various changes of the present with the past and I fancied that I could review, as did Mormon, the sad and gloomy picture of his time, 1472 years ago. The fathers of those who fell around this historic hill came from Jerusalem 600 years B.C.” Edward Stevenson Reminiscences of Joseph the Prophet and the Coming Forth of the Book of Mormon (S. L. C.: Edward Stevenson, 1893), pp. 14-15.
45. Just two months and twelve days before his death in 1877, Brigham Young was establishing a new stake in Farmington, Utah. In his discourse, he said the following: “Orrin P. Rockwell is an eyewitness to some powers of removing the treasures of the earth. He was with certain parties that lived nearby where the plates were found that contain the records of the Book of Mormon. There were a great many treasures hid up by the Nephites. Porter was with them one night when there were treasures, and they could find them easy enough, but they could not obtain them. When [Porter] tells a thing he understands, he will tell it just as he knows it; he is a man that does not lie. He said that on this night when they were engaged hunting for this old treasure, they dug around the end of a chest for some twenty inches. The chest was about three feet square. One man who was determined to have the contents of that chest took his pick and struck into the lid of it, and split through into the chest. The blow took off a piece of the lid, which a certain lady [Lucy Mack Smith, Joseph’s mother] kept in her possession until she died. That chest of money went into the bank. Porter describes it so he says this is just as true as the heavens are.” Brigham Young Journal of Discourses (Liverpool, 1878), vol. 19:36-39.
46. In 1900, George Reynolds finally published his Complete Concordance to the Book of Mormon, much of which (25,000 entries) had been completed while in prison in 1880. Until the age of computers, this monumental work would become the standard for students of the Book of Mormon. “CUMORAH- A hill and the district immediately surrounding it in Ontario County, State of New York. It was known as Ramah to the Jaredites. its vicinity both the Jaredite and the Nephite races were destroyed in battle. Within its bosom the sacred records of the latter race were concealed.” George Reynolds Complete Concordance of the Book of Mormon, SLC: Deseret Book, 1900
47. On June 7, 1908 in a special Temple fast meeting, according to the diary of Ruth May Fox, “Pres. Jos. F. Smith said that he stood on the hill by Orson Pratt when he pointed out the site where General Moroni made his last stand against the Lamanites.” Diary of Ruth May Fox, June 7, 1908
48. Joseph Fielding Smith was attending the first general conference of the Eastern States Mission, convened at the Joseph Smith Farm near Palmyra on September 21, 1923–the one hundredth anniversary of the appearance of Moroni to Joseph Smith–when he said the following:
“As I stood upon the summit of the Hill Cumorah, in the midst of a vast multitude, only a few of whom belonged to the Church, I tried to picture the scenes of former days. Here were assembled vast armies filled with bitterness and bent on destruction. I thought of the great promises the Lord had made through his prophets concerning those who should possess this choice land, and how those promises were not fulfilled because the people violated his commandments. Here a people perished because of their extreme wickedness. There is something in the destiny of things that would cause a repetition of this terrible scene on the same spot many centuries later. I reflected and wondered if this unhappy time would ever come when another still mightier people would incur the wrath of God because of wickedness and likewise perish. If so, would this same spot witness their destruction?” (See 1866 notation–Heber C. Kimball prophecy) Joseph Fielding. Smith Doctrines of Salvation, Vol. 3, p. 242.
49. Sjodahl writes that the conclusions of modern research of the mound builders coincides with the Book of Mormon account of the Jaredite people. “Modern archaeologists conclude that the Indians are of one race, their migrations were from south to north, the original inhabitants of America bear an unmistakable relationship to the Semitic branches of eastern culture and Egypt.” J. M. Sjodahl “Archaeology and the Book of Mormon,” in Millennial Star, February 26, 1925, pp. 132-34.
50. “Consider how very fortunate we are to be living in this land of America. Many great events have transpired in this land of destiny. This was the place where Adam dwelt; this was the place where the Garden of Eden was; it was here that Adam met with a body of high priests at Adam-Ondi-Ahman shortly before his death and gave them his final blessing, and the place to which he will return to meet with the leaders of his people (D&C 107:53-57). This was the place of three former civilizations: that of Adam, that of the Jaredites, and that of the Nephites.” The Teachings of Ezra Taft Benson pp. 587-588
51. Although some scholars insist that the Polynesian ancestors came from the Orient and sailed east to settle Polynesia, the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints has always taught that they sailed west from America. In 1818, Stuart Meha, a Maori Latter-day Saint from New Zealand, sent a telegram to the Church leaders thanking them for the privilege of allowing a group of Maori saints to travel to Salt Lake to go through the temple. In the telegram, Brother Meha added the words: “Who knows but that some of Hagoth’s people have returned–perhaps!”
Later, the First Presidency of the Church, and some of the General Authorities, gave a welcome, in Wandermere Park, in honor of this party of Maori Saints from New Zealand. In a speech delivered on that occasion, President [Joseph F.] Smith replied to the telegram: “I would like to say to you brethren and sisters from New Zealand, you are some of Hagoth’s people, and there is NO PERHAPS about it!” Continuing, President Smith told how it had been given to him by the spirit, while laboring in Hawaii, that the Polynesians were descendants of Lehi. Brother Meha testifies that these statements touched his heart, and he had no more uncertainties as to whether the Polynesians were truly of the House of Israel.” (Quoted in Step by Step in the Book of Mormon by Alan C. Miner “ The Personal Testimony of Stuart Meha,” Waipawa, H. B., New Zealand .
52. McGavin and Bean explain their point of view concerning the identity of the Hill Cumorah as an ancient battlefield. The authors conclude that the scholars “need not search for [Cumorah] in Mexico or Yucatan” E. Cecil McGavin and Willard W. Bean “Cumorah-Land, An Ancient Battlefield,” in The Improvement Era 44, September 1941, 526, 571-72.
53. J. Golden Kimball is quoted as saying the following: “Heber C. Kimball said it was revealed to him that the last great destruction of the wicked would be on the lakes near the Hill Cumorah.” J. Golden Kimball (abt. Heber C. Kimball) N. B. Lundwall, Temples of the Most High, SLC: Bookcraft, 1941, p. 52.
54. The book, Book of Mormon Geography, SLC: Bookcraft, argues that the Hill Cumorah and the Hill Ramah as geographical locations in the Book of Mormon were located in upstate New York. It therefore challenges the theory that the Hill Cumorah was located somewhere in Latin America. In the preface we find the following: “In recent years there has been a tendency among certain students of the Book of Mormon to orientate Book of Mormon cultures far to the south. Many students of the subject are convinced that the three colonies that came to America had their existence in Central America and Mexico. They are thought to have lived within a radius of a few hundred miles of Zarahemla, never pushing northward many miles, certainly not thrusting out their branches as far north as the Great Lakes along our Canadian border. . . .
Most students who accept this theory do not consider the Hill Cumorah in western New York as the hill where the gold plates were originally deposited, nor the area immediately south of the Great Lakes as the site of the Jaredite and Nephite battlefields. This theory leads to the assumption that Moroni buried the gold pates in a hill in Middle America known as Cumorah. After Joseph Smith’s family moved to Palmyra, New York, it is thought that the Angel Moroni took the plates from the Hill Cumorah in Central America and deposited them in the largest hill near the Smith homestead in western New York. .
The following pages are a plea in defense of the old theory–the interpretation of Joseph Smith, Oliver Cowdery, Orson Pratt, and a countless number of the Authorities of the Church. It is our humble opinion that there is no occasion to fling aside the old interpretation and accept the new, thus restricting the Book of Mormon races to the restricted confines of Central America.
We are indebted to Elder Mark E. Petersen, of the Quorum of the Twelve, for reading the manuscript and encouraging us to hasten its publication. He wrote these lines after reading it:” “I greatly enjoyed my perusal of your manuscript, and was very much impressed with the array of information you have gathered together from archaeological and other sources to prove your points. I recall that many of our people who have made studies in the region of the Hill Cumorah in western New York are convinced that the Nephites and Lamanites fought their last battles there because of the discovery of so many evidences of an ancient battle in that region. I am glad for anything that strengthens the faith of our people, and I believe that this new book will do that, particularly with respect to their attitude toward the Book of Mormon. I hope many people will read it and enjoy it as I did.” 1948 E. Cecil McGavin and Willard W. Bean Book of Mormon Geography, SLC: Bookcraft
55. “Cumorah in the Book of Mormon refers to a hill and surrounding area where the final battle between the Nephites and Lamanites took place, resulting in the annihilation of the Nephite people. Sensing the impending destruction of his people, Mormon records that he concealed the plates of Nephi1 and all the other records entrusted to him in a hill called Cumorah to prevent them from falling into the hands of the Lamanites. He delivered his own abridgment of these records, called the plates of Mormon, and the small plates of Nephi, which he placed with them, to his son Moroni (W of M 1:5; Morm. 6:6), who continued writing on them before burying them in an unmentioned site more than thirty-six years later (Moro. 10:1-2). .
Cumorah had also been the site of the destruction of the Jaredites roughly 900 years earlier. Moroni states in the book of Ether that the Jaredites gathered for battle near “the hill Ramah,” the same hill where his father, Mormon, hid up “the records unto the Lord, which were sacred” (Ether 15:11). It was near the first landing site of the people of Mulek (Alma 22:30), just north of the land Bountiful and a narrow neck of land (Alma 22:32).
The more common reference to Cumorah among Latter-day Saints is to the hill near present-day Palmyra and Manchester, New York, where the plates from which the Prophet Joseph Smith translated the Book of Mormon were found. During the night of September 21, 1823, Moroni appeared to Joseph Smith as an angel sent from God to show him where these plates were deposited (JS–H 1:29-47).
In 1928 the Church purchased the western New York hill and in 1935 erected a monument recognizing the visit of the angel Moroni. A visitors center was later built at the base of the hill. Each summer since 1937, the Church has staged the Cumorah Pageant at this site. Entitled America’s Witness for Christ, it depicts important events from Book of Mormon history. This annual pageant has reinforced the common assumption that Moroni buried the plates of Mormon in the same hill where his father had buried the other plates, thus equating this New York hill with the Book of Mormon Cumorah. Because the New York site does not readily fit the Book of Mormon description of Book of Mormon geography, some Latter-day Saints have looked for other possible explanations and locations, including Mesoamerica. Although some have identified possible sites that may seem to fit better (Palmer), there are no conclusive connections between the Book of Mormon text and any specific site that has been suggested.” 1992 David A. Palmer “Cumorah” in Daniel H. Ludlow ed. Encyclopedia of Mormonism, vol. 1. New York: Macmillan Publishing Company, 1992, pp. 346-347.
56. Curtis proposed a limited geography around the Great Lakes region of North America. His narrow neck of land lies between Lake Erie and Lake Ontario. He states his position as follows: “The geography of the Book of Mormon was not important to the author until the Ensign printed an article suggesting there were two hills named Cumorah. That suggestion caused the author to become engrossed in the geography of the Book of Mormon. The author had never been able to believe a loving God would promise Nephi North America and land him thousands of miles from that land, or that the Nephites could have lived in Mesoamerica and died in New York State.
Rather than looking to the works of man, the author searched the history and standard works of the church. To this was added the landmarks near and to the west of the Hill Cumorah as the source of information. All questions were answered and each confusing passage become [sic] clear. All the landmarks in the area prove the Hill Cumorah in New York is the Hill Cumorah of the Book of Mormon. [Thus] the history and standard works of the church, along with the landmarks near the Hill Cumorah, offer proof positive that the Hill Cumorah in New York State, was and is the Cumorah of the Book of Mormon. . . . The invention of a second Hill Cumorah creates far more questions than it answers.” (Front cover & Back cover). Delbert W. Curtis “Christ in North America: Christ Visited the Nephites in the Land of Promise in North America”, Resource Communications, 1993.
57. Duane Erickson develops a limited North American geographical model focusing on the United States as the “Land of Liberty,” and as the area where the record keepers of the Book of Mormon lived and recorded their histories—thereby keeping the New York hill Cumorah as THE Hill Cumorah. He claims that “After spending the most of 20 years trying to make sense of the Book of Mormon geography of others, exploring central America jungles by dugout canoe, he discovered the real land in his own backyard. Here in the United States, the only land of liberty.” He claims that his model of Book of Mormon geography originated in 1980. Duane Erickson “The Promised Land Everyone Knows”
58. After reading a paper by a Latter-day Saint author who had “come to the conclusion that there was nothing to be found in the Central American setting that convinced him that the Book of Mormon belonged there,” Duane Aston asked himself, “what if the Book of Mormon did not belong in Central America? [and] if Book of Mormon lands were not located in Central America, then where might they belong?” Aston then describes what followed: “The only reasonable possible solution that came to my mind was New York. What if the setting for the Book of Mormon was anciently located in the lands that we know as New York? . . . Might this location serve as a starting point to begin a search for the geography of the Book of Mormon? The more I studied and researched upon the matter, the more I became convinced that indeed the Book of Mormon itself contained sufficient clues that could resolve the issue of the geography of the Book of Mormon. The Lord showed Nephi that “many multitudes of Gentiles” would come “upon the land of promise.” (1 Nephi 13:14-16). What other people could this refer to, other than those Gentiles, pilgrims, who had come to occupy eastern United States and Canada in colonial times?” 1998 Duane R. Aston Return to Cumorah: Piecing Together the Puzzle Where the Nephites Lived, Sacramento: American River Publications [pp. 2-3]
59. “The Book of Mormon records that due to the wickedness of the Nephite civilization they were destroyed by their brothers the Lamanites. The final battles of this unholy war took place near a hill that was called Cumorah. At Cumorah, hundreds of thousands of Nephites were slain, and the prophet/historian Moroni buried the history of his people in that hill (Mormon 6:2-15; 8:1-5). Hundreds of years later, that same history was unearthed in upstate New York, by the boy prophet Joseph Smith and translated to become the Book of Mormon (Joseph Smith–History 1:51-52).
When Joseph Smith made his “fantastic” claims and published the Book of Mormon as an ancient history of the American Indians, some scoffed at the idea that a major battle had anciently taken place in the local vicinity. However, evidence was soon produced that documented that this region of the country did indeed once possess a heavy Indian population, and that a terrible battle had taken place in that locality.
Writing in 1851, E. G. Squier says that in the region: “Human bones of men, women, and children of both sexes were thrown together promiscuously by the thousands.” He notes large quantities of pottery, pipes, flint arrow-heads, stone hatchets and other implements were also found there. He further states that the ancient relics unearthed in the vicinity (which he estimates to be several hundred years old) showed considerable evidence of Hebrew origin. (See E. G. Squier, Antiquities of New York, 1851, pp. 137-138.)
In New York State Bulletin #2 it is documented that several miles south of “Mormon Hill,” as it was then called, a site was found where flint arrowheads and spear points and many unfinished weapons were found in great abundance. All of the above sources are cited in Brenton G. Yorgason, Little Known Evidences of the Book of Mormon, 1989, p. 10.
60. In the 1834 Unitarian (Boston) reported that the Mormons “Suppose the mounds throughout the western states, which have heretofore excited so much curiosity, are the remains of the cities of the Nephites and Lamanites.” Edward Stuart Abdey wrote in 1835 that “the mounds of earth, which, as they now exist in that part of the country, have given rise to so much interest and speculation, are referred to, by the preachers of the Mormon faith, as proofs of these theocratic tribes. And Mormon elder Charles Thompson added in an 1841 pamphlet that such similarities were “sufficient to show to the public that the people whose history is contained in the Book of Mormon, are the authors of these works.” Vogel, Dan, 1986, Indian Origins and the Book of Mormon, Salt Lake City
61. We have been to Adam-Ondi-Ahman, and there are large stones scattered around on top of Tower Hill that are the remains of a structures, so it was apparently a Hopewellian stone tower or altar as indicated by Joseph. In connection with this, George W. Robinson in 1838 also wrote: “President Smith and myself . . . returned to the camp in Robinson’s Grove . We next scouted west in order to obtain some game to supply our necessities but found or killed none. We [found] some ancient antiquities about one mile west of the camp, which consisted of stone mounds , apparently laid up in square piles, though somewhat decayed and obliterated by the almost continual rains. Undoubtedly these were made to seclude some valuable treasures deposited by the aborigines of this land.” Faulring, Scott H. ed., 1989, An American Prophet’s Record: The Diaries and Journals of Joseph Smith, Salt Lake City, Utah: Signature Books, p. 185, spelling corrected
62. “Before breaking camp the morning of June 3, the Prophet Joseph Smith, accompanied by several of the men, went to observe a large mound which was located approximately one mile below the Phillip’s Ferry crossing. It was of unusual size and lay within the proximity of a number of smaller mounds. Heber C. Kimball and Wilford Woodruff recorded in their journals that the mound was one hundred feet high and three hundred feet above the level of the river. The height of the mound enabled the men to look over the tops of the trees and view the surrounding area. At the crest of the mound, human bones were strewn around the base of what appeared to be a three-tiered altar. Heber C. Kimball wrote that the arrangement of the stones resembled the ancient order or altars..
The men were curious about the area, the mounds, and particularly about the scattered bones. As they began to descend the mound, Joseph Smith suddenly stopped, pointed to the ground, and said, “Brethren, dig in there.” When the earth had been removed to the depth of one or two feet, the men found the skeleton of a large man. Journal accounts state that, “the bones were all there and in a good state of preservation.” Buried in the backbone, between the ribs of the man was a stone arrowhead which Milton Holmes took. Examining the skeleton more closely, it was noted that one of the thigh bones had been previously broken and knitted together. The thigh bones and the arrowhead were taken back to camp and placed in Wilford Woodruff’s wagon. The skeleton was unusually large . It was estimated to be over eight feet tall.” James L. Bradley, Zion’s Camp 1834: Prelude to the Civil War (Salt Lake City: Publishers Press, 1990), p. 207.
63. “When President Young visited the proposed sites, he requested that his teamster conduct the party to the lowest place in the valley, a veritable swamp infested with marsh-grass and cattails. Pointing out the marsh to the brethren, he explained that the [St. George] Temple must be built at that place, because the Nephites had previously dedicated that very site for the erection of a Temple, but had been unable to bring their hopes to a full fruition.” McGavin, E. Cecil, 1935, Mormonism and Masonry, Salt Lake City, Utah: Deseret News Press, p. 156
Another account by David Henry Cannon Jr ., a witness to the event, says:
To the South, they finally stopped. ‘But, Brother Young,’ protested the men, ‘this land is boggy . . . There is no place to build a foundation. We will make a foundation, said President Young. Later on while plowing and scraping where the foundation was to be, my horse’s leg broke through the ground into a spring of water. The brethren then wanted to move the foundation line twelve feet to the south, so that the spring of water would be on the outside of the Temple. Not so,’ replied President Young, ‘We will wall it up and leave it here for some future use. But we cannot move the foundation. This spot was dedicated by the Nephites. They could not build it (the Temple), but we can and will build it for them.’ To this day the water from that very spring is running through a drain properly built for it.” Heinerman, Joseph, 1986, Temple Manifestations, Salt Lake City Utah: Joseph Lyon and Associates, Inc. dba Magazine Printing and Publishing, pp. 60-
Once, Brigham Young, accompanied by Warren S. Snow, went to where they would build the Manti Temple. Warren S. Snow said:
“We two were alone: President Young took me to the spot where the Temple was to stand; we went to the southeast corner, and President Young said: ‘Here is the spot where the Prophet Moroni stood and dedicated this piece of land for a Temple site, and that is the reason why the location is made here, and we can’t move it from this spot; and if you and I are the only good persons that come here at high noon today, we will dedicate this ground.’ Sorenson, John, 1992, The Geography of Book of Mormon Events: A Source Book, Provo, UT: FARMS; Whitney, Orson F., 1974, Life of Heber C. Kimball, Salt Lake City, Utah: Bookcraft, p. 477; Cheesman, Paul R., 1978, The World of the Book of Mormon, Horizon Publishers, Bountiful, Utah, p. 25; Heinerman, Joseph, 1986, Temple Manifestations, Salt Lake City, Utah: Joseph Lyon and Associates, Inc. dba Magazine Printing and Publishing, p. 101
Upon one occasion President Brigham Young was in the Tabernacle at St. George and was speaking on the spirit world. He stated that it was not far from us and if the veil could be taken from our eyes there wouldn’t be either a man, woman or child who would dare go out of “this tabernacle as the spirits of the Gadianton robbers were so thick out there. This is where they lived in these mountains,” said he.” Crowther, Duane S., 1967, Life Everlasting, Bookcraft, SLC, UT, p. 165, as quoted from N. B. Lundwall, Temples of the Most High, p. 89.
“Of course, the significance of this statement makes sense only in light of the land of Zarahemla being in the United States. The Nephites wouldn’t have gone all the way from Mexico into the United States to hunt the Gadianton Robbers, nor would the GAdiantons have gone into the United States to hide from Nephites in Mexico. It is clear that since the Gadianton Robbers were hiding out in Utah in the St. George region, the Land of Zarahemla must have been in the United States as well. The “mountains” mentioned in the following scriptures, therefore, are the Rocky Mountains of the United States.” Josephsmithacademy.org
64. “Once the red men were many; they occupied the country from sea to sea — from the rising to the setting sun; the whole land . . . Thousands of moons ago, when the red men’s forefathers dwelt in peace and possessed this whole land the Great Spirit talked with them, and revealed His law and His will and much knowledge to their wise men and prophets. This they wrote in a Book . . . written on plates of gold and handed down from father to son for many ages and generations. It was then that the people prospered and were strong and mighty; they cultivated the earth, built buildings and cities and abounded in all good things, as the pale faces now do . . . This Book, which contained these things was hid in the earth by Moroni, in a hill called by him Cumorah, which hill is now in the state of New York, near the village of Palmyra, in Ontario county . . . Thus ended our first Indian mission, in which we had preached the Gospel in its fullness and distributed the record of their forefathers among three viz.: the Cattaraugus Indians, near Buffalo, N.Y., the Wyandots, of Ohio and the Delawares, west of Missouri.” Autobiography of Parley P. Pratt, pp. 56-6; Documentary History of the Church Vol 1: Footnotes 183:2-18
65. “The Constitution of the United States has served as a model for many nations and is the oldest constitution in use today. “I established the Constitution of this land,” said the Lord, “by the hands of wise men whom I raised up unto this very purpose” ( D&C 101:80 ). For centuries the Lord kept America hidden in the hollow of His hand until the time was right to unveil her for her destiny in the last days. “It is wisdom that this land should be kept as yet from the knowledge of other nations,” said Lehi, “for behold, many nations would overrun the land, that there would be no place for an inheritance” ( 2 Ne. 1:8 )… Our Father in Heaven planned the coming forth of the Founding Fathers and their form of government as the necessary great prologue leading to the restoration of the gospel. Recall what our Savior Jesus Christ said nearly two thousand years ago when He visited this promised land: “For it is wisdom in the Father that they should be established in this land, and be set up as a free people by the power of the Father, that these things might come forth” (3 Ne. 21:4). America, the land of liberty, was to be the Lord’s latter-day base of operations for His restored church…
During his first inaugural address in 1789, President George Washington, a man who was raised up by God, said: “No people can be bound to acknowledge and adore the invisible hand, which conducts the affairs of men, more than the people of the United States. Every step by which they have advanced to the character of an independent nation seems to have been distinguished by some token of providential agency” (First Inaugural Address, 30 Apr. 1789)…
Unfortunately, we as a nation have apostatized in various degrees from different Constitutional principles as proclaimed by the inspired founders. We are fast approaching that moment prophesied by Joseph Smith when he said: “Even this nation will be on the very verge of crumbling to pieces and tumbling to the ground, and when the Constitution is upon the brink of ruin, this people will be the staff upon which the nation shall lean, and they shall bear the Constitution away from the very verge of destruction” (19 July 1840, as recorded by Martha Jane Knowlton Coray; ms. in Church Historian’s Office, Salt Lake City)…
Only in this foreordained land, under its God-inspired Constitution and the resulting environment of freedom, was it possible to have established the restored church…
Two great American Christian civilizations—the Jaredites and the Nephites—were swept off this land because they did not “serve the God of the land, who is Jesus Christ” (Ether 2:12). What will become of our civilization?… I have faith that the Constitution will be saved as prophesied by Joseph Smith. It will be saved by the righteous citizens of this nation who love and cherish freedom. It will be saved by enlightened members of this Church—among others—men and women who understand and abide the principles of the Constitution.
I reverence the Constitution of the United States as a sacred document. To me its words are akin to the revelations of God, for God has placed His stamp of approval upon it.
I testify that the God of heaven sent some of His choicest spirits to lay the foundation of this government, and He has now sent other choice spirits to help preserve it.
We, the blessed beneficiaries of the Constitution, face difficult days in America, “a land which is choice above all other lands” (Ether 2:10)… Exra Taft Benson “Our Divine Constitution Ensign Oct 1987
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Above information last updated Nov 15, 2019