Lehi’s Landing-Apalachicola Florida


591 BC 1 Nephi 18:23-25

Archaeology, Bees, Honey, Climate, Latitude, Wind Currents, Promised Land (USA), Abundance of Food, Scripture Text, Seeds, No large number of indigenous peoples, and “It Just Makes Sense”

Thesis: The Mulekites c. 589 BC may have landed at the Gulf of Mexico by the Mississippi River, and continued up the Mississippi and settled upriver at Montrose, IA or Zarahemla. (D&C 125:3) The Mulekites had always remained at their first location when Mosiah found them. Omni 1:16 “And they journeyed in the wilderness and were brought by the hand of the Lord across the great waters, into the land where Mosiah discovered them; and they had dwelt there from that time forth.” The Lehi Landing c. 591 BC or the Land of First Inheritance was possibly near Tallahassee Florida. Nephi could then travel up the Chattahoochee River to its source at Unicoi Gap, GA. The source of the Hiwassee River could then take the Nephites where the first temple may have been built in Chattanooga, TN.

This is a possible location for the Nephite settlement. The rivers most likely were the highways of the Nephites. The Land in Tennessee is higher in elevation than Zarahemla (Montrose, IA) and that is why in the scriptures you will always hear of Nephites traveling “up to” the Land of Nephi and “down to” Zarahemla, as it is a reference to elevation not direction. The Moccasin Bend Archaeological District is rich in head plates, breastplates of copper, and other artifacts dating from 3000 BC to 1500 AD. Today from the top of Lookout Mountain in Chattanooga, you can see 7 different states. ‘ Mosiah 11:12 relates that King Noah, Zeniff’s son, built ‘a very high tower, even so high that he could stand upon the top thereof and overlook the land of Shilom, and also the land of Shemlon, which was possessed by the Lamanites, and he could look over all the land round about.’ If Noah wanted to look over all the land round about, there could hardly be a better place to do so than Lookout Mountain which rises out of the river valley above Chattanooga to a height of almost 2,400 feet. On clear days, mountains 100 miles away are visible from the summit. The tower was near the temple, but there is no description of where the temple was. It may have been enclosed in walls within the city, or it may have been built on a high place, which would explain why Noah built his tower near the temple.” Jonathan Neville Moroni’s America page 128

“Speaking about Lehi’s people, “Joseph wrote, “They were principally Israelites, of the descendants of Joseph.”  It is possible that Joseph Smith was referring to Zoram after all, clarifying he was not a Jew. He may have been referring to those who accompanied the Mulekites (presumably Phoenicians). But it is also possible that he was referring to others who accompanied Lehi… To summarize: I think Lehi brought servants and landed in a mostly uninhabited area in Florida, among a small population of hunter/gatherers who lacked a well-organized society.” Jonathan Neville Moroni’s America page 84-86

“I think Lehi landed in Florida for all the reasons I’ve explained in Moroni’s America. He may have sailed south of Cuba to get there because of ocean currents and wind, but it’s interesting that Mulek, Lehi and Columbus converge on the same areas.” [Below are some reasons].” Jonathan Neville Moroni’s America.

1- Wind current routes across the Atlantic (in the fall when honey and fruits were available, and the natural currents in the fall take you west) would put them somewhere in the Caribbean. This route was proven to be possible by the Phoenicia Expedition of 2009.
2- They went where the Lord directed them with the Liahona, so I don’t think they would have just landed wherever the wind blew them (which would probably have been Hispaniola or maybe the East Coast of Florida or South Carolina).
3- I think it makes sense they landed about the same latitude [Similar climate for seeds] as Jerusalem, which they could tell from the stars.
Lattitudes Similar 30° 26′ 17″ N (Tallahassee, FL) and 31° 46′ 48″ N  (Jerusalem) Not similar 15° 30′ 0″ N (Guatemala)
4- Crops grew abundantly. This would be difficult in the jungles or islands.
5- It had to be a mostly unoccupied area (not Mesoamerica). Only small groups of hunter/gatherers in Southeastern U.S. at the time. [A large group of people wouldn’t have allowed Nephi to be their king]
6- It had to be the same general land where the Jaredites lived. [Cumorah and Ramah]
7- Should have archaeological evidence. (See Nancy White article below)
8- There should be signs of Hebrew writing or relics. (Holy Stones, Bat Creek Stones, Los Lunas, etc.)
9- Lehi and Nephi brought much honey with them from Bountiful in Oman. 1 Nephi 18:6 “And it came to pass that on the morrow, after we had prepared all things, much fruits and meat from the wilderness, and honey in abundance, and provisions according to that which the Lord had commanded us, we did go down into the ship, with all our loading and our seeds, and whatsoever thing we had brought with us, every one according to his age; wherefore, we did all go down into the ship, with our wives and our children.” It would make sense that the Lord may have led them to another land (Apalachicola FL) that had an abundance of honey producing vegetation, or Lehi may have brought the seeds from Israel to grow the White Tupelo Gum trees, nyssa ogeche, that are found naturally in Florida. Remember the Jaredites also brought bees with them to the Promised land. Ether 2:3 “And they did also carry with them deseret, which, by interpretation, is a honey bee; and thus, they did carry with them swarms of bees, and all manner of that which was upon the face of the land, seeds of every kind.”

“Pierce Mounds, at the mouth of the river (Apalachicola) and overlooking both north-south and east-west traffic, were part of a major multi-component center with remarkable Middle Woodland mounds. Materials clustered around the Apalachicola delta and coast close to Pierce and spread from there up the river. Prestige goods were possibly traded down to major mound centers then moved to other centers along the valley, ending up in burial mounds all over the valley, perhaps interred with important people during Swift Creek times, (100-800 AD) and interred in mass deposits in slightly later Weeden Island times. Such items likely were transported down the river to Pierce, where they were distributed to the inhabitants of nearby coastal mounds involved in the procurement and management end of the trade network, and then traded up the river to other trade partners. Since nearly all the mound sites documented in this thesis have both Swift Creek and Weeden Island pottery, the suggestion is also that these systems endured for a long time as ceramic styles and possibly associated archaeological cultures changed. This research should contribute to a better understanding of Middle Woodland ceremonialism in the Southeastern United States and the Apalachicola watershed, and the systems through which ceremonial artifacts moved around the land. In the future, data from higher up the river in Georgia and Alabama could be compared to help create a picture of Middle Woodland manifestation in the entire valley for comparison with the rest of the Southeast and discussion of differences between trade routes along major waterways and overland historic trails. Further testing of the exotic materials in the mounds for trace elements or other data could shed light on trade routes along which these artifacts and raw materials were traded. With better understanding of the major and minor routes, questions regarding the role of sites in Middle Woodland exchange can be answered. Mounds like Poplar Springs Mound are facing destruction from development and looting. It is essential that these sites are studied before they are gone.

In northwest Florida, the great Apalachicola River system is formed from the confluence of the Flint River, which originates near Atlanta, and the Chattahoochee River, which flows out of the Blue Ridge mountains of north Georgia. The Apalachicola runs over 100 miles to the Gulf of Mexico (Figure 1). It is Florida’s largest river in terms of flow, and the only one containing snowmelt. Its valley is home to several kinds of rare plants and animals and more reptile and amphibian species than anywhere else north of Mexico, amid an exceedingly rich biotic system. Where the river flows into Apalachicola Bay, the abundant life possible in estuarine systems provides the shrimp, oysters, and other seafood for which this region is famous today. The bays and sounds are protected by beautiful barrier islands with white sugar-sand beaches. At the mouth of the river sits the small town of Apalachicola, today known for oysters and picturesque old houses from its historic past. But for about 2000 years of prehistoric time, this location was an important Native American capital centered around the Pierce mounds.

The Pierce site consists of a long shell midden ridge, a large village area, and 13 mounds, constructed and inhabited over a period of time estimated to extend from perhaps 600 B.C. until around A.D. 1400. Its archaeological evidence indicates day-to-day occupation by indigenous peoples who fished, gathered, and hunted, leaving their food garbage and discarded artifacts piled along the riverbank. The evidence shows other aspects of their lives as well, in the construction of burial mounds and inclusion of elaborate ritual artifacts for the honored dead, expressions of ancient beliefs and probably spirituality.

Pierce is one of the most famous sites in southeastern U.S. archaeology, but in reality we have known very little about it. Artifacts and other materials from the site are known to have been collected as early as the mid-nineteenth century, and probably such finds were routinely made far earlier by whoever settled nearby. The first published record was produced well over century ago by Clarence Bloomfield Moore (1902:217-229; Brose and White 1999:219-231), a wealthy Philadelphian whose digs into Indian mounds all over the South are well known because he did describe them in journal articles. Moore’s excavations into two of the mounds at Pierce unearthed elegant ceramic vessels, stone spear and arrow points and plummets, freshwater pearls, copper and silver ornaments, shell beads and drinking cups, and even a bison-bone ornament, associated with many burials of the honored dead, 99 of whom he unearthed from Mound A. Moore noted five mounds, and also described other mound sites nearby (named after the landowners or geographic features), such as the Cemetery Mound, Mound near Apalachicola, and Cool Springs and Singer Mounds, all of which are now thought to make up the whole Pierce complex.

The location of the Pierce site is optimal for obtaining all the resources prehistoric people needed. Upland animal species would have included deer, many small mammals, turtles and other reptiles and amphibians. There would also have been abundant wetland wildlife in the marsh, and fish and aquatic species, including the molluscs whose shells are so abundant at the site, in the river, creeks, and bay. Hardwood bottomland trees such as oaks and magnolia, stands of pine, and wetland cypress and tupelo(Honey) would have produced food from fruits to nuts and acorns. Given the thick forests, prehistoric peoples most likely made the majority of their material culture from wood and other plant materials. What we see in the archaeological record – stone, ceramic, shell artifacts and ecofacts that have been preserved – is probably just a very small part of what people made and used.

A “worm-shaped” pot from Pierce Mound A leads researchers to believe the grub worm may have had significance to the people who built the mounds. Photo courtesy of National Museum of the American Indian, Smithsonian Institution.

In addition to the bounty of its natural environment, the location of the Pierce site is also a great strategic position, with easy access to movement not only east-west along the Gulf, but also north-south on the river system hundreds of miles into the interior. In prehistoric times the only way to go anywhere was to walk or take a boat; water travel was much more efficient. Thus, Pierce was ideally situated not only for obtaining and moving resources, but also for the flow of information and of people, for social, economic, and political interaction.

Deptford-period pottery, (700 BC- 400 AD) indicating people were at Pierce at least as early as 2000 to 3000 years ago. They may have begun mound building at that early time too. Even though the social and political systems changed over time, presumably becoming more complex by the Fort Walton period, when the site must have been a chiefly center with its platform mound and large village, subsistence did not seem to change. Based on the faunal remains from the site, it appears that prehistoric peoples were making a living in the same way their ancestors did one or two millennia earlier: fishing and shellfishing in the rich streams and bays, supplemented by gathering and hunting on land. Such a stable subsistence system supported other enormously complex economic activities at Pierce. Especially for the late Early Woodland and Middle Woodland peoples who built the burial mounds, accumulation of wealth items was very important and probably linked with spiritual beliefs. Elaborate artifacts, either from distant sources or locally crafted in fancy styles, were a significant part of life and markers probably of social, political, and religious status. Some materials were imported from as far as the Appalachian mountains, as the river provided a major highway for the exchange of materials and ideas. However, these expensive possessions were interred with the dead, along with some strikingly plain everyday items, and evidence of burning and other ritual accompanying burial.

PIERCE MOUND A (8FR14A) Location and Description The most spectacular mound at Pierce has been Mound A, mostly because Moore (1902:217-228) dug it thoroughly and recovered 99 burials and exotic and elaborate grave goods. He devoted the most pages to its description and clearly stated that it was the southwesternmost mound in the group, so it is unknown why later researchers thought it was one of the other mounds. Moore’s original field notes locate Mound A at the “edge of scrub” and say “to E & W md extends in sort of roadway,” a setting much changed, as it was recently in heavy forest and then cleared, with little evidence of a roadway. Moore said it was 8 feet high, 96 feet east-west and 76 feet north-south, implying an oval, which is indeed its shape in the unpublished notes. He referred to the “summit plateau” as 40 x 34 feet but much broadened “to prepare for interments made in recent times “– a statement with no explanation. It is hard to believe he would be allowed to dig in a cemetery with recent graves.”

Pierce Mounds Complex An Ancient Capital in Northwest Florida Nancy Marie White Department of Anthropology University of South Florida, Tampa nmw@usf.edu Final Report to George J. Mahr, Apalachicola, Florida December 2013


Mounds at Turtle Harbor from Turtle Harbor Mounds on Vimeo .

Jaredite/Lehi Bees

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.W. Phelps, Editor Evening and Morning Star, February-July 1833 Quoted in “Step by Step through the Book of Mormon” by Alan C. Miner

Tupelo Honey


Tupelo honey is produced from the tupelo gum tree which grows profusely along the Chipola and Apalachicola rivers of northwest Florida. Here in the river swamps, this honey is produced in a unique fashion. Bees are placed on elevated platforms along the river’s edge, and they fan out through the surrounding Tupelo-blossom-laden swamps during April and May and return with their precious treasure. This river valley is the only place in the world where Tupelo Honey is produced commercially.

Real Tupelo honey is a light golden amber color with a greenish cast. The flavor is delicious, delicate and distinctive; a choice table grade honey. Good white tupelo, unmixed with other honeys, will not granulate, and due to this high fructose low glucose ratio some diabetic patients have been permitted by their physicians to eat Tupelo honey. Average analysis: fructose 44.03% glucose 29.98%.

Black tupelo, ti-ti, black gum, willow, and several other honey plants bloom in advance of white tupelo and are used to build up colony strength and stores

Tupelo Honey Bloom

Black tupelo, ti-ti, black gum, willow, and several other honey plants bloom in advance of white tupelo and are used to build up colony strength and stores. Since these sources produce a less desirable, darker honey, which will granulate, the product is sold as bakery honey. Possibly it is just that or a blend which is a cheaper honey for which the buyer may be paying a premium price.

The important point which we wish to make here is that all honey that is being labeled Tupelo is not top quality Tupelo honey as the bees make it and as skilled beekeepers produce it. Some honey may be very light in color and could very well have a high percentage of gall berry. Gall berry blooms right after Tupelo. It is attractive, as it is a light white honey, but it is not Tupelo and will soon granulate. Some honey is labeled Tupelo and wildflower. In this case the buyer has no guarantee of just how much real Tupelo he may be getting.

Fine Tupelo is more expensive because it cost more to produce this excellent specialty honey. To gain access to the river locations where the honey is produced requires expensive labor and equipment. In order to get fine, unmixed Tupelo honey, colonies must be stripped of all stores just as the white Tupelo bloom begins. The bees must have clean combs in which to place the Tupelo honey. Then the new crop must be removed before it can be mixed with additional honey sources. The timing of these operations are critical and years of experience are needed to produce a fine product that will certify as Tupelo honey.

Nyssa ogeche and Taxodium distichum var. imbricarium

The new honey always comes in by the middle of May to late May. When we bottle the new honey, and it has not been allowed time to settle. It will have foam and small black particles come to the top of the honey jar as it sits. The honey takes a month or two to settle after it is extracted. It’s fine to eat this or it can be spooned off the top of the honey. The small black particles are bees wax and pollen. This is something that tells you that the honey has not been heated or processed. It’s untouched just as nature intended. All we do to our honey during the extracting process is strain it through cheese cloth. We use absolutely no heat on our honey.

L.L. Lanier & Son’s Tupelo Honey – Since 1898 318 Lake Grove Road P.O. Box 706 – Wewahitchka, FL 32465 Phone or Fax: (850) 639-2371
Email: info@lltupelohoney.com

  • The genus name Nyssa refers to a Greek water nymph. The name tupelo, the common name used for Nyssa, is of Native American origin, coming from the Creek words ito ‘tree’ and opilwa ‘swamp’; it was in use by the mid-18th century.
  • The city of Tupelo, Mississippi, is named for this tree.
  • Tupelo wood is used extensively by artistic woodcarvers, especially for carving ducks and other wildfowl. It power carves excellently and holds good detail in the end grain. In commerce, it is used for shipping containers and interior parts of furniture and is used extensively in the veneer and panel industry for crossbanding, plywood cores, and backs. The wood can be readily pulped and is used for high-grade book and magazine papers.In the past, the hollow trunks were used as “bee gums” to hold beehives.
  • Tupelos are popular ornamental trees for their mature form, shade, and spectacular Autumn leaf colors.
  • Tupelos are used as food plants by the larvae of some Lepidoptera species, including Endoclita damor.[citation needed]
  • The Ogeechee Tupelo, sometimes referred to as the Ocheechee Lime, which is native to Georgia and north Florida produces an edible fruit in the form of a sour, oblong drupe.


Ogeechee tupelo requires a very moist site and is distributed along the borders of rivers, swamps, and ponds that are frequently flooded

Tupelos of the species Nyssa ogeche are valued as honey plants in the southeastern United States, particularly in the Gulf Coast region. They produce a very light, mild-tasting honey. In Florida, beekeepers keep beehives along the river swamps on platforms or floats during tupelo bloom to produce certified tupelo honey, which commands a high price on the market because of its flavor. Monofloral honey made from the nectar of Nyssa ogeche has such a high ratio of fructose to glucose that it does not crystallize.

“The Apalachicola River in the Florida Panhandle is the center for tupelo honey. The honey is produced wherever tupelo trees (three species) bloom in southeastern USA, but the purest and most expensive version (which is certified by pollen analysis) is produced in this valley. In a good harvest year, the tupelo honey crop produced by a group of specialized Florida beekeepers has a value approaching $1,000,000.” https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tupelo

“The basin of the Apalachicola River is also noted for its tupelo honey, a high-quality monofloral honey, which is produced wherever the tupelo trees bloom in the southeastern United States. In a good harvest year, the value of the tupelo honey crop produced by a group of specialized Florida beekeepers approaches $900,000 each spring.” https://www.visitgulf.com/tupelo-honey

“Generations of beekeepers have been harvesting this delicacy in Wewahitchka, north Gulf County, for decades. It is harvested from the White Tupelo Gum tree (nyssa ogeche). These trees average 50 to 75 feet in height, and 2 to 3 feet in diameter. The trees are most content when standing in several feet of water. An abundance of Tupelo trees are found in the Apalachicola and Chipola river basins in our part of Florida (Gulf and Liberty counties).

The Tupelo tree blossom starts out as a round bud, about the size of a small pea. It then swells into what looks like a miniature cauliflower. Finally, it explodes with dozens of little spikes. The nectar is at the base of each spike.

Tupelo blossoms are very fragile and unpredictable. In some years, the nectar flow lasts for a few weeks. In other years, the fragile blooms may be ruined by wind, hard rain or cold weather just a few days after opening. One thing, however, is certain. Each year, the demand for Tupelo Honey increases!” Content provided graciously by GCTDC Partner, SmileyHoney.com

Bees use nectar from the white Tupelo trees to make the unique southeastern “Tupelo Honey”!

Interesting facts about Tupelo honey

  • Bees use nectar from the white Tupelo trees to make the unique southeastern “Tupelo Honey”!
  • Tupelo honey has a light amber golden color with a unique flavor and a delicate and distinctive taste.
  • Pure Tupelo Honey, produced from only the White Tupelo, is the only honey that will not granulate.
  • Due to it’s high laevulose (44.3%), low dextrose (29.98%) ratio (average), doctors have been able to recommend some diabetic patients to consume Tupelo Honey.
  • This honey was topic in a movie starring Peter Fonda as a beekeeper (Ulee’s Gold, 1997).
  • Tupelo Honey is also the name of a Van Morrison’s songand album released in November of 1971.
  • Tupelo Honey is a unique product of the southeast USA.

Pure Tupelo Honey is produced from the White Ogeechee Tupelo

  • Tupelo, Ogeche’s native habitat in the South Eastern US, from South Carolina to Northern Florida to Mississippi.
  • Ogeechee tupelo requires a very moist site and is distributed along the borders of rivers, swamps, and ponds that are frequently flooded.
  • Thousands of hectares of Ogeechee tupelo have been planted in bee farms along the lower Apalachicola River and around swamps, where it grows also naturally. hort.ufl.edu/database/documents/pdf/tree_fact_sheets/nysogea.pdf http://thecitrusguy.blogspot.com/2011/08/oh-gee-ogeechee-lime.html



Archaeology: 500-700 BC pottery, copper, tools, and bones at Pierce Mounds. Buried Mammoths at Wakulla Springs which is also a first magnitude spring and aquifer. Route of Hopewell Indians.
Bees and Honey: This river valley is the only place in the world where Tupelo Honey is produced commercially.
Latitude: Similar 30° 26′ 17″ N (Tallahassee, FL) and 31° 46′ 48″ N  (Jerusalem) Seeds would grow.
Wind Currents: Leaving Oman in Sept (after honey and fruits are ripe), wind currents flow toward horn of Africa, not towards India
Promised Land: Book of Mormon speaks of a Land of Liberty. USA, not Mesoamerica
Abundance of Food: Oman and Florida both called “A” Land Bountiful
Navigation: Phoenicia 2009 Expedition proved Lehi could have traveled around Africa and could land in the Gulf near Apalachicola
Resources prehistoric people needed: Deer, small mammals, turtles and other reptiles and amphibians. Abundant wetland wildlife. Fish, molluscs. Hardwood bottomland trees, fruits to nuts and acorns. Thick forests
No large number of indigenous peoples: “ I think the text shows Lehi’s colony landing in the promised land, planting their own seeds, finding animals and ore in the wilderness, all while completely unimpeded by any existing civilization. (1 Ne. 18:23-5). I think Lehi’s observation that “ this land should be kept as yet from the knowledge of other nations ” was accurate; i.e., that there were no “ other nations ” in the promised land where they landed, “f or behold, many nations would overrun the land, that there would be no place for an inheritance ” (2 Nephi 1:8). I do think think there were some indigenous people who went with Nephi when he fled (2 Nephi 5:6), but I infer they were unorganized hunter/gatherers that did not qualify as any sort of “nation” and were impressed by the Jewish immigrants’ technology, language, etc.

In my view, it is difficult enough to believe that Lehi’s family, a relative handful of immigrants from a distant culture speaking a different language, could have arrived and started planting crops on unclaimed land in Mesoamerica, encountering no resistance, but it is even more difficult to believe Lehi’s descendants could have managed to rule as kings and chief judges over even a part of a Mayan civilization, and that in the midst of this Mayan civilization, King Mosiah could have escaped with the Nephites into the wilderness and found a much larger group of illiterate people (the people of Zarahemla) who possessed exactly one engraven stone.

Now that we are learning from LiDAR that the Mayan civilization was even larger, more densely populated, and more sophisticated than we previously realized, the Book of Mormon seems even less plausible in that setting. IOW, the grander the Mayan civilization, the less likely it is that Lehi landed anywhere near that civilization.This view is based on the text and has nothing directly to do with the New York Cumorah, but it does confirm my bias in favor of the New York Cumorah.” Jonathan Neville

“It Just Makes Sense”