Category Archives: Cumorah

Land of Many Waters

The Land of Many Waters
Watkins Glen, NY

And it came to pass that we did march forth to the land of Cumorah, and we did pitch our tents around about the hill Cumorah; and it was in a land of many waters, rivers, and fountains; and here we had hope to gain advantage over the Lamanites. — (Book of Mormon, Mormon 6:4)

When Mormon leads his people to the Hill Cumorah, he makes a point of recording that it was located in the “land of many waters.” This would indicate that the number of lakes, rivers, streams and springs was unusual. The Hill Cumorah near Palmyra, NY, which we at Joseph Knew believe to be the Hill Cumorah spoken of by Mormon, is located in the Finger Lakes region of Western New York.

The early native people considered this area sacred and blessed by God. Native legend says that after He created the earth, God blessed it by placing his hand on this area, and this left the Finger Lakes. Lakes Cayuga and Seneca are among the deepest lakes in the United States. This area is a central part of the Iroquois homeland. The lakes sit below Lake Ontario and are a central feature in what Willard Bean called Cumorahland.

Land of Many Waters -- NASA Photo
Land of Many Waters — NASA Photo

This area is certainly “a land of many waters, rivers, and fountains.” In New York there are over 1,600 fresh lakes, ponds and reservoirs. There are over 70,000 miles of rivers. The Finger Lakes are a group of eleven long, finger-like lakes.

The Finger Lakes area is a good candidate for The Land of Many Waters for several reasons.

From a military standpoint the terrain is good defensively.

The great number of lakes, rivers and streams would have slowed down the enemies from the south pursuing the Nephites northward. The Book of Mormon emphasizes the fact that the land of many waters was “an exceeding great distance” from the land of Zarahemla and that there were more streams, rivers, lakes, and fountains in that area than were to be found in any lands where these early people had dwelt.

Evidence of great battles in Cumorahland can be found all along the Great Lakes region.

New York Governor DeWitt Clinton, who was the driving force behind the Erie Canal in the early 1800s, lectured about ancient discoveries in the Great Lakes area.

In a lecture before the New York Historical Society in 1831, he spoke about the great number of fortresses found all along the Great Lakes area. He said:

“I have seen several of these works in the western part of this state. There is a large one in the town of Onondaga, one in Pompey, and another in Manlius; one in Camillus, eight miles from Auburn: one in Scipio, six miles, another one mile, and one about half a mile from that village. Between the Seneca and Cayuga Lakes there are several—three within a few miles of each other. Near the village of Canandaigua there are three. In a word, they are scattered all over that county.”

The Hill Cumorah is the largest hill in the area and would have served as a good look-out post. (Mormon 6:11)

Archeological evidence suggests two great nations perished in the Finger Lakes area.

Arrowheads from the Hill Cumorah
Arrowheads from the Hill Cumorah

In 1925 a farmer in Palmyra was digging a well and uncovered several large skeletons. The age of the skeletons was determined to be approximately 3,000 years old. This would fit in the time frame of the Jaradite Nation.

The Rochester Herald reported that, “In this pit were found an axe of peculiar shape, wide bit and other implements that bore signs of ancient warfare. There are dozens of similar ruins near Rochester. Upon these steep heights invading armies may have pressed a desperate assault, while all along the brow of the hills behind the rude fortifications of the great forest, stood the defenders of camp and home.”

Implements of war such as arrowheads, spearheads, axes and clubs have been found throughout the area which indicate great battles took place there around 600 – 300 B.C. and another 300 – 500 AD.

Remains of a giant race of people have been found in the area.

In his 1888 book Pioneers of the Western Reserve, Harvey Rice recorded the recovery of human remains in the Finger Lakes area. He wrote:

“Human bones of gigantic proportions were discovered in such a state of preservation as to be accurately described and measured. The cavities of the skulls were large enough in their dimensions to receive the entire head of a man of modern times, and could be put on one’s head with as much ease as a hat or cap. The jaw-bones were sufficiently large to admit of being placed so as to match or fit the outside of a modern man’s face.”

Many church leaders believed the Finger Lakes area was the land of Cumorah.

Moroni Monument at Cumorah
Moroni Monument at Cumorah

Oliver Cowdery taught that the final battle of both the Jaredites and the Nephites took place in the valley west of the Hill Cumorah.

In 1935 Gordon B. Hinckley attended the dedication of the Moroni monument atop the Hill. He recognized the fields around the hill as a great battlefield. He wrote: “. . . the canvas shroud fell from the monument and the figure of Moroni looked out across the quiet fields, which is his day of life, had been scenes of carnage and sorrow.”

In a 1975 General Conference address, Marion G. Romney said: “In the western part of the state of New York near Palmyra is a prominent hill known as the “Hill Cumorah.” 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.”

Orson Pratt said: “[Moroni’s] nation was destroyed in what we term the State of New York, around about a hill, called by that people the Hill of Cumorah, when many hundreds of thousands of the Nephites — men, women and children, fell, during the greatest battle that they had had with the Lamanites.” (Journal of Discourses Vol. 20, pg. 62)

Joseph-Knew-old-Book-of-MormonIn their book Geography of the Book of Mormon, Willard Bean and Cecil McGavin wrote:

“In the light of this evidence it would be useless to argue with these reputable historians that a war of extermination had not been fought in Cumorahland and that a great nation had not been exterminated.

“The imperishable inscriptions of metal plates have told us the history of that mysterious people who fought their final battles in the land of many waters.

“Furthermore, the Book of Mormon emphasizes the fact that the land of many waters was ‘an exceeding great distance’ from the land of Zarahemla; that there were more streams, rivers, lakes, and fountains in that area than were to be found in any lands where these early people had dwelt.

“Middle America is not a land of many waters. Its ancient hills are not marked with tokens of fortifications; its skeletal remains do not tell of a bitter war of extermination, comparable at all to the evidence in western New York. If we are to find that historic land where the drums of war called forth the warriors until the land was covered with the bodies of the dead, we must go northward ‘an exceeding great distance,’ as the Jaredites and Nephites did many centuries ago.

“These aboriginal monuments, the tell-tale tokens of ancient warfare by highly civilized nations, are not to be flung aside as one ‘fights against the pricks’ to confine these ancient people to the narrow and restricted domain of Middle America. Inscriptions on metal have told us the story, which is otherwise a great mystery. These mysteries vanish as ancient historians speak from the dust.”

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When using portions of this article, please credit: JosephKnew.com

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Hear what Gordon B. Hinckley had to say about the Hill Cumorah in this short video clip. (1:27)

 

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Image credits:

Finger Lakes – NASA

All other photos – CastleGate Media LLC

Hill of Ancient Seers and Prophets

In September 1827, the Book of Mormon Prophet Moroni visited Joseph Smith. During that first visit from Moroni, Joseph saw in a vision the hill in which the plates were buried. After that, Joseph began referring to that hill outside Palmyra, NY  as Cumorah. This was not a name he received from the Book of Mormon. It was the name he received from Moroni.

Other early leaders, who were close to Joseph Smith, called the hill Cumorah as well. Orson Pratt believed that the hill was not only the place where Moroni buried the Book of Mormon record, but was also the hill in which Moroni’s father Mormon deposited hundreds of other records. In the church publication, Millennial Star, Pratt wrote:

Joseph Knew - Young Orson Pratt
Orson Pratt

“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 sacred 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 its contents under the charge of holy angels, until the day should come for them to be transferred to the sacred temple of Zion.

“There is no spot on this wide world of ours, which is calculated to excite more vivid reflections, than the wonderful hill of Cumorah. There the history of one-half of our globe, reposed, for fourteen centuries, in profound unbroken silence: there, ‘the everlasting Gospel,’ engraved, not on tablets of stone, but on plates of gold, awaited the voice of the heavenly angel to reveal the priceless treasure: there, buried in the holy archives of Cumorah’s sacred hill, are plates of brass, plates of gold, undimmed by time; sacredly guarded as the temple of heaven: there shines the Urim and Thummim, the stones of light, the gems of immortality: there, reposes in words of light, the hidden knowledge of ages past, the prophetic history of ages to come: there wisdom has selected her palace, and understanding her dwelling place, until ‘the spirit is poured out from on high’ and ‘the skies pour down righteousness;’ then, ‘the earth opens and brings forth salvation.’

Joseph-Knew-Two-Cumorahs-533
The Hill Cumorah c. 1920

“All the wealth of ages is valueless, compared with the records of eternal wisdom, the inexhaustible fountain of understanding, hidden in the secret recesses of the wonderful—the beautiful—the lovely hill Cumorah! O, Cumorah! The hill of ancient Seers and Prophets! The hill
of God! Sanctified by holy angels’ feet! From thy bowels is heard a voice, low, sweet, mild, of heavenly tones! Yet it thrills through every fiber of the heart! It speaks of man—of God— of earth—of heaven—of hell! It speaks of the past—of the future—of the destiny of nations— the reign of Messiah—the resurrection—the final judgment! O holy, lovely mount! The sacred resting place of Zion’s law! In thy chambers dwell eternal riches! In thy lovely bosom are fountains that never dry! Speak! O speak again! Let Zion hear thy voice! For thy voice is not the voice of feeble helpless man! But the voice of the Eternal One, speaking from the ground.” (Millennial Star, 1866)

In 1835, Oliver Cowdery wrote a number of letters he called The Rise of the Church. These appeared in the church publication, The Latter Day Saints’ Messenger and Advocate. They were also reprinted in the Times and Seasons. In letter VII he wrote about the hill and described the area around it. It was his belief that the great and final battle in Cumorahland took place west of the hill, between the Hill Cumorah and a smaller hill about a mile west. Cowdery, like Orson Pratt, believed that the hill was not important only to the Nephite prophets, but to the Jaredites as well.

Joseph-Knew-Oliver-Cowdery
Oliver Cowdery

“You are acquainted with the mail road from Palmyra, Wayne Co. to Canandaigua, Ontario Co. N.Y. and also, as you pass from the former to the latter place, before arriving at the little village of Manchester, say from three to four,
 or about four miles from Palmyra, you pass a large hill on the east side of the road. Why I say large, is, because it is as large perhaps, as any in that country. To a person acquainted with this road, a description would be unnecessary, as it is the largest and rises the highest of any on that route. The north end rises quite sudden until it assumes a level with the more southerly extremity, and I think I may say an elevation higher than at the south a short distance, say half or three fourths of a mile. As you pass toward Canandaigua it lessens gradually until the surface assumes its common level, or is broken by other smaller hills or ridges, water courses and ravines. I think I am justified in saying that this is the highest hill for some distance round. . . .

“At about one mile west rises another ridge 
of less height, running parallel with the former, leaving a beautiful vale between. The soil is of the first quality for the country, and under a state of cultivation, which gives a prospect at once imposing, when one reflects on the fact, that here, between these hills, the entire power and national strength of both the Jaredites and Nephites were destroyed.” (Oliver Cowdery,The Rise of the Church, letter VII)

Both of these men were close to the Prophet Joseph Smith. We can assume that much of the information they gained about Book of Mormon lands came from him. They were also both prophets themselves and would be entitled to their own personal insights.

Many leaders have shared their beliefs that the hill outside Palmyra, NY is the Hill Cumorah in the Book of Mormon.

Copyright © 2016 by Energy Media Works LLC

When using portions of this article, please credit: JosephKnew.com

If you have comments or questions, we would like to hear them. Just click on leave a comment below.

Hear what Gordon B. Hinckley had to say about the Hill Cumorah in this short video clip. (1:27)

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Image credits: All images in the public domain. The painting of Moroni appearing to Joseph Smith is by the artist C.A.A. Christiansen

Battles in Cumorahland

The Book of Mormon tells of many battles, but none fiercer than those fought in Cumorahland. The Jaredite nation was destroyed near the hill Ramah and approximately 1,000 years later the Nephites were slaughtered near that same hill, then called Cumorah.

We have already established in earlier articles that the hill at Palmyra, NY that we call Cumorah is that same hill from the Book of Mormon.

Joseph Knew Great Lakes Area map - Covens & Mortimier 1757
Cumorahland — Western New York

Is There Evidence of Great Battles Near the Hill Cumorah?

The Great Lakes area of the United States is covered in ruins that match the cities and fortresses of Cumorahland described in the Book of Mormon. Unfortunately many of those ruins have been destroyed or covered over in the last 200 years

In a lecture before the New York Historical Society in 1831, Governor DeWitt Clinton said:

Joseph-Knew---DeWitt_Clinton_by_Rembrandt_Peale
NY Governor DeWitt Clinton

“I have seen several of these works in the western part of this state. There is a large one in the town of Onondaga, one in Pompey, and another in Manlius; one in Camillus, eight miles from Auburn: one in Scipio, six miles, another one mile, and one about half a mile from that village. Between the Seneca and Cayuga Lakes there are several—three within a few miles of each other. Near the village of Canandaigua there are three. In a word, they are scattered all over that county.”

As we have discussed in an earlier post, common attitudes of the 18th and 19th centuries labeled Native Americans as backward, savages and therefore not the descendants of the people who had created such great civilizations. One of the things Joseph Smith knew was that the Native Americans were not savages and they were the descendants of that great society.

The descriptions of fortresses in the book of Alma bear striking similarities to those found in the Great Lakes area.

Governor Clinton described:

Joseph Knew -- Alma 48 8“These forts were, generally speaking, erected on the most commanding ground. The walls or breastworks were earthen. The ditches were on the exterior of works. [ ] The trenches were in some cases deep and wide, and in others shallow and narrow; and the breastworks varied in altitude from three to eight feet. They sometimes had one, and sometimes two entrances, as was to be inferred from there being no ditch at those places. When the works were protected by a deep ravine or a large stream of water no ditch was to be seen. The areas of these forts varied from two to six acres; and the form was generally an irregular elipsis; and in some of them fragments of earthenware and pulverized substances, supposed to have been originally human bones, were to be found. [ ]

“These numerous works could never have been supplied with provisions without the aid of agriculture. Nor could they have been constructed without the use of iron or copper, and without perseverance, labour, and design which demonstrate considerable progress in the arts of civilized life.” (O. Turner, Pioneer History of the Holland Purchase of Western New York. 1850, pages 20-21)

It’s interesting that even though the idea that an ancient Mediterranean people inhabited the great lakes area was a common school of thought in the 1800s, when Joseph Smith presented a reasonable and logical explanation in the Book of Mormon, he was labeled a liar and a fraud. Ten years after the publication of the Book of Mormon, long after Joseph and the other saints had left New York, a newspaper, the New York Star, scolded people for scoffing.

Joseph Knew Mormon Media Network Final Battle near Buffalo NY
Battlefield Near Buffalo, NY

“We must, as a nation, relinquish our believing propensities, our uniform practices of doubting everything which we cannot exactly comprehend, and believing everything to be a hoax or a humbug, and prepare ourselves by a proper study and discipline of mind to know and to believe that this New World, [ ] was settled by the descendants of Peleg . . .

“Let our people know that the red men spread over this continent are the descendants of what was called the lost tribes, who bear, at this day, the proofs in their religion, language and ceremonies, of their early origin. So far, all is conjecture; but these discoveries will in time ripen into fixed and positive evidence.”  (The New York Star, July 11, 1840)

In his 1850 book, Pioneer History of the Holland Purchase of Western New York, Orsamus Turner  wrote extensively about the ancient people that preceded the 19th century Europeans living in America.

“We are surrounded by evidences that a race preceded them [the Europeans], farther advanced in civilization and the arts, and far more numerous. Here and there upon the brows of our hills, at the head of our ravines, are their fortifications; their locations selected with skill, adapted to refuge, subsistence and defense.” (O. Turner, Pioneer History of the Holland Purchase of Western New York. 1850, page 18)

JosephKnew-Land-of-Many-Waters-with-red-dot
The Finger Lakes — Upstate New York

The area we call Cumorahland is a land full of evidence of fortresses, great battles and mass destruction. Again for his book, Turner records:

“Although not peculiar to this region, there is perhaps no portion of the United States where ancient relics are more numerous. Commencing principally near the Oswego River, they extend westwardly over all the western counties of our State.” (Ibid, page 19)

“We are prone to speak of ourselves as the inhabitants of a new world; and yet we are confronted with such evidences of antiquity! We clear away the forests and speak familiarly of subduing a ‘virgin soil’;—and yet the plough up-turns the skulls of those whose history is lost ! We say that Columbus discovered a new world. Why not that he helped to make two old ones acquainted with each other.” (Ibid, pages 18 and 19)

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No Nephite Books?

There is a fairly popular paper floating around the Internet. It is attributed to Dr. John L. Sorenson *. The paper is titled ”A Whole Bunch of Reasons Why Book of Mormon Geography could not Have Included North America.” It lists 37 things that, in the opinion of the author, prove that North America is not the land of the Book of Mormon.

Now and then we will take one of these 37 points and discuss it here on Joseph Knew. In this article we will discuss point number 15 which says there is no evidence of Nephite “books” in North America. It reads:

  • At least the Nephites are said to have possessed “many” books covering many subjects. No ancient North American books at all are evidenced.

Joseph-Knew-old-Book-of-MormonWe at Joseph Knew can think of at least one Nephite book found in North America. It’s a fairly well know chronicle called the Book of Mormon. It has a companion book, which is not yet in print; it  goes by the working title the Sealed Two Thirds. This Nephite record, or “book” was deposited by Moroni in the Hill Cumorah in New York, North America.

We understand that there are those who believe that there were two Cumorahs, one in Mexico where Moroni hid the plates and a hill in New York where Moroni re-hid them after retrieving them from the Mexico hill and carrying them to New York. We at Joseph Knew believe there was only one Cumorah, and it was in New York. For information on why we support the one hill theory,  please see this article.

Cumorah was not the only hill in Book of Mormon times to contain Nephite records.

“And now I, Mormon, make a record of the things which I have both seen and heard, and call it the Book of Mormon.

“And about the time that Ammaron hid up the records unto the Lord, he came unto me, (I being about ten years of age, and I began to be learned somewhat after the manner of the learning of my people) and Ammaron said unto me: I perceive that thou art a sober child, and art quick to observe;

“Therefore, when ye are about twenty and four years old I would that ye should remember the things that ye have observed concerning this people; and when ye are of that age go to the land Antum, unto a hill which shall be called Shim; and there have I deposited unto the Lord all the sacred engravings concerning this people.” (Mormon 1:1-3)

“And now I, Mormon, seeing that the Lamanites were about to overthrow the land, therefore I did go to the hill Shim, and did take up all the records which Ammaron had hid up unto the Lord.” (Mormon 4:23)

The book we have today known as the Book of Mormon is an abridgment of many records like those Ammaron compiled and hid. The Book of Ether is also an ancient record which was hidden and then became part of the Book of Mormon.

Joseph-Knew-Oliver-CowderyThere are many accounts recorded of the Hill Cumorah containing many Nephite records. Not only did the hill contain records in the days of Moroni, but in the 1800s as well. Oliver Cowdery, who is mentioned in several accounts, said of the Hill Cumorah:

“In my estimation, certain places are dearer to me for what they now contain than for what they have contained.” (Latter-day Saints’ Messenger and Advocate, October 1835, 2:196; emphasis in the original)

Oliver was with Joseph Smith when the plates were returned to the hill after the translation was completed.

Brigham Young recorded:

“Oliver Cowdery went with the Prophet Joseph when he deposited these plates . . . When Joseph got the plates, the angel instructed him to carry them back to the hill Cumorah, which he did. Oliver says that when Joseph and Oliver went there, the hill opened, and they walked into a cave, in which there was a large spacious room . . . They laid the plates on a table; it was a large table that stood in the room. Under the table there was a pile of plates as much as two feet high, and there were altogether in this room more plates than probably many wagon loads; they were piled up in the corners and along the walls.” (Brigham Young, Journal of Discourses 19:37-39)

Joseph-Knew---Heber-C-Kimball-from-LDS-Church-ArchivesHeber C. Kimball, speaking of Joseph Smith and others inside a cave in the hill Cumorah, said:

“There were books piled up on tables, books upon books. Those records this people will yet have, if they accept of the Book of Mormon and observe its precepts, and keep the commandments. . . . Joseph Smith said the cave contained tons of choice treasures and records.” (Hebrew C. Kimball, Journal of Discourse 4:105)

Brigham Young recorded hearing Heber C. Kimball talk about Joseph, Joseph Smith Sr., and Oliver Cowdery “walking into the hill Cumorah and seeing records upon records piled upon table[s,] they walked from cell to cell and saw records that were piled up . . .” (Manuscript History of Brigham Young, 5 May, 1867, Family and Church History Department Archives)

If one uses the argument that no Nephite records have been found in North America and therefore, the Book of Mormon did not take place in North America, one must apply that same logic to Central and South America. Where are the Nephite records that have been found there? We have the Book of Mormon which came from a Nephite book in North America and that is one more record than has been found in Guatemala.

Joseph-Knew-Hill-Cumorah-about-1830We have the testimony of many people that there were Nephite books in North America. It’s true that first hand accounts are the best and most trusted accounts. However, second hand accounts from trusted sources such as Brigham Young, Heber C. Kimball, Wilford Woodruff, and many others can be valuable as well.

Because such records were hid up by prophets of the Lord, it stands to reason that such records have not been found. Such records will remain hidden until the Lord wants them revealed. In an interview in 1877, David Whitmer  said that even if science proved the records were there in the hill, no one would be able to obtain them until the Lord desired it. **

We have witnesses testifying that there were many Nephite books in Cumorah and we have the definitive Nephite book, the Book of Mormon, found in North America.

Copyright © 2015 by Energy Media Works LLC

When using portions of this article, please credit: JosephKnew.com

If you have comments or questions, we would like to hear them. Just click on leave a comment below.

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* Dr. Sorenson is an emeritus professor of anthropology at Brigham Young University. He has done great research in Central America and proposes that area as the land of the Book of Mormon.

** The 1877 interview with David Whitmer was for a book called Reminiscences of Joseph, the Prophet, and the Coming Forth of the Book of Mormon by Edward Stevenson.

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Additional Information:

For more on Cumorah’s Cave we recommended Cameron Packer’s article.

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Who Said THAT Hill was Cumorah?

Joseph-Knew-Hill-Cumorah-with-BuggySeveral years ago I was speaking to a good friend about events that took place in Palmyra, New York. We talked about Joseph Smith’s First Vision, Moroni’s visit, Joseph receiving the Golden plates, the publishing of the Book of Mormon and a few other 19th century events. I then moved the conversation back about 1,600 years. I talked about the final battle that virtually annihilated the Nephites. At this point the conversation took an interesting turn.

My friend asked, “So you believe the hill in New York is the hill Cumorah from the Book of Mormon?”

I have to say I was a little surprised by the question. “Of course I do.” I said. “Don’t you?”

“Well, no. Everything in the Book of Mormon took place in Central America didn’t it?”

I won’t say anymore about that conversation other than to say that it continued and finally ended in a very friendly way.

But that conversation gave me cause to really think about the Mesoamerica vs North America question. I especially thought about the Cumorah question. Could I be mistaken about the location of Cumorah spoken of in the Book of Mormon? After much research and contemplation, I have determined that if I am mistaken about the location of the Book of Mormon Cumorah, I’m in very good company. Here is a list of others who were mistaken:

Oliver Cowdery, Heber J. Grant, Martin Harris, Heber C. Kimball, J. Golden Kimball, Moroni, Orson Pratt, Parley P. Pratt, B. H. Roberts, Hyrum Smith, Joseph Smith Jr., Joseph F. Smith, Joseph Fielding Smith, Lucy Mack Smith, James E. Talmage, Wilford Woodruff, Brigham Young.

Before we quote some of the above individuals, let’s first look at Doctrine & Covenants 128:20. Section 128 is an epistle from Joseph Smith to the members of the church. In it he reminds them of the great coming forth of the Book of Mormon by the hands of Moroni.

“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.”

Joseph-Knew-BH-Roberts-at-Hill-CumorahIn his comprehensive history of the church, Church Historian Elder B. H. Roberts wrote:

“Encouraged by this repetition of the vision of the previous night, and strengthened by the assurances of his father that the visitation was of God, Joseph repaired that same day to the hill he had seen in vision, the place where the sacred record was concealed, some two miles distant from the Smith home. The hill is about four miles south of the town of Palmyra, in Wayne county. It stands on the east side of the Cananandaigua road, and is the most conspicuous landmark in all that section of New York. In the Book of Mormon the hill is known as Ramah, and Cumorah, referred to more frequently, however, by the latter name.” (B. H. Roberts, A Comprehensive History of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, Century 1, Brigham Young University Press, Vol. 1, 1965, pg. 75)

Again, from Elder Roberts:

“This time it will have to do with so important a matter as a war of extinction of two peoples, the Nephites and the Jaredites, on the self same battle site, with the same ‘hill’ marking the axis of military movements. By the Nephites this ‘hill’ was called the ‘Hill Cumorah,’ by the Jaredites the ‘Hill Ramah’; it was that same ‘hill,’ in which the Nephite records were deposited by Mormon and Moroni, and from which Joseph Smith obtained the Book of Mormon, therefore the ‘Mormon Hill’, of today—since the coming forth of the Book of Mormon—near Palmyra, New York. (B.H. Roberts, Studies of the Book of Mormon, p.277)

Joseph-Knew-Oliver-CowderyWhen Oliver Cowdery and Parley P. Pratt were serving their mission to the Lamanites, Oliver related a brief history of the Book of Mormon to the Delaware Chief. Elder Pratt recorded Oliver’s discussion in his autobiography. Explaining how the Book of Mormon was a history of the Lamanite people, Oliver said:

“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, pg. 59)

Joseph-Knew-Orson-PrattApostle Orson Pratt spoke many times about the hill Cumorah and never placed it anywhere but New York.

“Thirty-six years prior to this time his [Moroni’s] nation was destroyed in what we term the State of New York, around about a hill, called by that people the Hill of Cumorah, when many hundreds of thousands of the Nephites-men, women and children, fell, during the greatest battle that they had had with the Lamanites.” (Journal of Discourses Vol. 20, pg. 62)

In a conference address in October, 1975, Elder Marion G. Romney spoke of his personal experience at the Hill.

“In the western part of the state of New York near Palmyra is a prominent hill known as the “Hill Cumorah.” 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.”

Later in his address he said the following:

“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.” (Talk given by President Marion G. Romney in General Conference, October 4, 1975, Ensign Nov. 1975 pg. 35)

In his book, Doctrines of Salvation, Hyrum Smith’s grandson Joseph Fielding Smith wrote:

“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 Rama. It was approximately near to the waters of Ripliancum, which the Book of Ether says, “by interpretation, is large, or to exceed all.”  Mormon adds: “And it came to pass that we did march forth to the land of Cumorah, and we did pitch our tents round about the hill Cumorah; and it was in a land of many waters, rivers, and fountains; and here we had hope to gain advantage over the Lamanites.”

“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….” (Joseph Fielding Smith, Doctrines of Salvation , Vol.3, Bookcraft, 1956, p.232-43.)

Joseph-Knew-James-E-TalmageIn the early part of the 20th century, Apostle James E. Talmage was a frequent visitor to Palmyra. In his book Articles of Faith he wrote:

“The hill, which was known by one division of the ancient peoples as Cumorah, by another as Ramah, is situated near Palmyra in the State of New York .” (James E. Talmage, Articles of Faith, chapter 14)

We could cite quote after quote by early and present-day church leaders placing the hill from the Book of Mormon in New York, but the most compelling argument is this. After Moroni’s first visit to the Prophet Joseph Smith, Joseph began calling the hill “Cumorah”. Joseph had not yet received the plates, and could not have heard the name “Cumorah” from any other source than Moroni himself.

In the early days of the church no other location besides New York was ever considered for the Hill Cumorah.  Moroni deposited his plates in the hill and called it Cumorah, and Joseph Smith returned the plates to that very same hill and called it Cumorah.

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Ancient Burial Sites of New York

Joseph-Knew-Mormon-Media-Network-E-G-SquireAntiquities of New York

In earlier articles we have discussed the skillful and precise construction of great cities, large temple mounds and military defenses. The information in these articles has come from a variety of sources, including personal visits to the sites. Some of the best information on the ancient civilizations of North America has been provided by Ephraim George Squier (1821 – 1888). Along with his research and publishing partner Edwin Hamilton Davis (1811 – 1888), he unknowingly provided us with great insight into the lives, religions, cities and social networks of the people of the Book of Mormon.

In his book, Antiquities of the State of New York, Squier chronicles something much different than is found in his previous publications, Ancient Monuments of the Mississippi Valley and Aboriginal Monuments of the State of New York. Instead of descriptions of beautifully aligned cities, or carefully laid out military forts, he reports of works “constructed in haste for temporary purposes”. He details evidence of “indiscriminate massacres” and “bone-pits”.

Connections to the Book of Mormon

Joseph Knew Mormon Media Network Final Battle near Buffalo NYIn the Book of Mormon, in the 6th chapter of Mormon, the Nephites gather to the land Cumorah for the final battles with the Lamanites. If, as we have proposed in a previous article, the land Cumorah was in upstate New York near the Hill Cumorah, Rochester, and Buffalo, then the following passage from Squier’s chapter Ancient Work near Buffalo takes on significant meaning.

“Tradition fixes upon this spot as the scene of the final and most bloody conflict between the Iroquois and the ‘Gah-kwas’ or Erie — a tradition which has been supposed to derive some sanction from the number of fragments of decayed human bones which are scattered over the area.” (Antiquities of the State of New York, E. G. Squire, M. A., 1851, page 74)

Tens of Thousands Killed

“And Lamah had fallen with his ten thousand; and Gilgal had fallen with his ten thousand; and Limhah had fallen with his ten thousand; and Jeneum had fallen with his ten thousand; and Cumenihah, and Moronihah, and Antionum, and Shiblom, and Shem, and Josh, had fallen with their ten thousand each.” (Mormon 6:14)

The number of people slaughtered at Cumorah seems incomprehensible. Many non-believers cite these passages as evidence of Joseph Smith’s great imagination. Surely there would be evidence today of such large numbers of dead people. While excavating along the banks of the Erie Canal the following was recorded:

“In excavating the canal through the bank bordering the flats, perhaps thirty rods south of the fort, another burial-place was disclosed, evidently more ancient, for the bones crumbled to pieces almost immediately upon exposure to the air, and the deposits were far more numerous than in that near the river. The number of skeletons are represented to have been countless, and the dead had been buried in a sitting posture.” (Antiquities of the State of New York, E. G. Squier, M. A., 1851, page 144)

“One of these pits discovered some years ago, in the town of Cambria, Niagara County, was estimated to contain the bones of several thousand individuals.” (Ibid, page 99)

Joseph-Knew-Mormon-Media-Network-Arrow-HeadSavage Warfare

Squier uncovered evidence of savage warfare, which left “bone-heaps” and “bone-pits” throughout the Finger Lakes region of New York (Cumorahland).

“Besides the various earth-works [ ], there are a number of other interesting objects of antiquarian interest in this county. Among them may be mentioned the ‘bone-pits’ or deposits of human bones. One is found near the village of Brownsville, on Black River. It is described as a pit, ten or twelve feet square, by perhaps four feet deep, in which are promiscuously heaped together a large number of human skeletons.” (Ibid, page 29 – italics in the original)

“Near the town of Fulton, on the west side of Oswego River, is an eminence called ‘Bone Hill’ in which have been found great numbers of human bones promiscuously heaped together. They are much decayed. Intermixed with them were discovered a number of flint arrow-heads.” (Ibid, page 31 – italics in the original)

In Genesee County the ruins of a large enclosure were discovered.

“It was called the ‘Bone Fort’ from the circumstance that the early settlers found within it a mound, six feet in height by thirty at the base, which was entirely made up of human bones slightly covered with earth. A few fragments of these bones, scattered over the surface, alone mark the site of the aboriginal sepulcher. The popular opinion concerning this accumulation is, that it contained the bones of the slain, thus heaped together after some severe battle.”

“There have also been discovered some heaps of small stones; which have been supposed to be the missiles of the ancient occupants of the hill, thus got together to be used in case of attack.” (Ibid, pages 66 and 69)

Joseph-Knew-Mormon-Media-Network-Ancient-burial-sites-in-VIctor-New-YorkThe “bone-pits” found in New York differ in one important way from burial grounds in the Mississippi Valley. Unlike those in Mississippi, the Cumorahland pits and mounds appear to be created in great haste. A mound near Greene Township, NY, near the Chenango River was discovered and excavated.

“Great numbers of human bones were found ; and beneath them, at a greater depth, others were found which had evidently been burned. No conjecture could be formed of the number of bodies deposited here. The skeletons were found lying without order, and so much decayed as to crumble on exposure. At one point in the mound a large number, perhaps two hundred, arrowheads were discovered, collected in a heap. They were of the usual form, and of yellow or black flint.” (ibid, pages 47 and 48)

The End of Two Great Nations

The Book of Mormon tells of two great battles of genocide that took place in Cumorahland, the Jaradites and centuries later the Nephites. Could the two layers of burials described above be evidence of the end of these great civilizations?

In a previous article, we discussed the bones, arrowheads, and weapons that continue to be found in the Finger Lakes region of New York. There are many contemporary firsthand accounts of massive graves throughout the area known as Cumorahland. Students of the Book of Mormon looking for evidence of the great battles of the Jaradites and the Nephites can look in the Land of Many Waters in Upstate New York.

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Antiquities of the State of New York, E. G. Squire, M. A., 1851

How We Acquired the Hill Cumorah

THE RETURN TO PALMYRA

Approximately 85 years after the first saints were forced to leave the Palmyra area, a young Mormon couple returned and took up residence in the Joseph Smith home. Newlyweds Willard and Rebecca Bean were called as missionaries to leave their home in Richfield, Utah, move to Palmyra, farm the land, make friends, preach the gospel, baptize converts, and organize a branch of the church. They were set apart for “five years or more”. They served nearly 25 years arriving in Palmyra as newlyweds and leaving as grandparents.

In the following video Alvin Bean, the oldest son of Willard and Rebecca, talks about growing up on the Joseph Smith farm, his dad purchasing the Hill, reforesting the Hill, and meeting a young missionary named Gordon Hinckley who stopped by on his way home from England.

PURCHASING THE HILL

Willard Bean facilitated the purchase of several important church historical sites in and around Palmyra. One of the most interesting transactions was the purchase of the Hill Cumorah.

The following is from the personal journal of Willard Washington Bean.

Joseph-Knew-Mormon-Media-Network-Palmyra-Main-StreetWhen I arrived in Palmyra, with my family, in 1914, to take over the Joseph Smith farm and act as caretaker, we found the sentiment toward Joseph Smith not unlike that which prevailed at Nazareth toward the Master when he began his earthly ministry. I realized more than ever before the full significance of Jesus’ saying: “No prophet is accepted in his own country.” Joseph Smith was commonly referred to as a tow-headed, illiterate dreamer and fortune teller, an idle jack-knife swapper, a musk-rat and wood-chuck trapper, a chicken thief, sheep thief, smoke purloiner, visionary gold digger, etc.

And they could prove it to their entire satisfaction from the accepted history of Wayne County, which has a wilfully and contemptibly written chapter on the Smith family and Mormonism. This was read by each generation as it grew up, and the junior and senior high school students seemed to pride themselves in basing one of their oratoricals each year on this particular chapter. It was a popular theme, as the history was taken at face value. It also mentions, among other things, that an attempt was made in 1830 to proselyte the people of Palmyra to “Joe Smith’s delusions,” and Oliver Cowdery gave a talk in the ”Young Men’s Club” hall, but met with so cold a reception that he never made a second attempt and “Palmyra is well rid of a bad lot.”

So, naturally, when the good people of Palmyra learned that a Mormon family had settled on the old Smith homestead near Palmyra, they were a little curious to see us, but didn’t seem to warm up much toward their new neighbors. But that was quite natural and rather to be expected, especially after I had familiarized myself with local history and listened to the old stories that had been handed down from one generation to another. We were pointed out and discussed in all assemblies. Another thing that possibly gave occasion for some of the more fertile imaginations to work overtime on gossip, was that my [second] wife happens to be some years younger than myself, and we brought two children, 12 and 14 years of age, from a former marriage. This, of course, was the latest addition to my harem, and that it was customary to live with each new one for seven years, etc. To help keep this gospel alive, five different anti-Mormon lecturers were booked to lecture in the churches on the four corners. Resolutions were passed by various auxiliary organizations of the churches, farmers’ grange association, etc., pledging themselves to discourage any attempt at Mormon propaganda and to show their disapproval by non-attendance.

Joseph-Knew-Mormon-Media-Network-Hill-Cumorah-with-horse-and-buggyBut they soon learned to tolerate us and, in time, to respect us; and, finally, decided that we were good citizens and an asset to the community. About five years ago [abt. 1923] we purchased the J.H. Inglis farm, consisting of 97 acres, situated on the state highway and taking in part of the hill Cumorah. About three years ago [abt. 1925] we negotiated a deal whereby we came into possession of the Peter Whitmer farm in Fayette, Seneca County. This farm consists of 100 acres, and is historic by reason of its being the birth place of the Church, where part of the Book of Mormon was translated, where a number of the early revelations recorded in the Doctrine and Covenants were received, and where the three special witnesses saw the angel Moroni and the gold plates.

While Pliny T. Sexton was alive, he phoned me to call at his office as he had a matter of interest to our people to talk over with me.

Joseph-Knew-Mormon-Media-Network-HJ-Grant-and-Pres-NibleyPresident Grant and his counselor, C. W. Nibley, accompanied Willard to visit with Sexton at his bank. The banker suggested a price of $100,000 for the purchase of the hill. Willard told Sexton he had been listening to tales of the fabulous wealth of the Mormon Church and informed him that the Church had done quite well without the hill for nearly a hundred years and would continue to do so until a more realistic offer was made.

As they drove back to the farm, President Nibley said,  “When the Lord wants us to get possession of that hill, the way will be opened up.”

Again from Willard’s journal:

Subsequently, he [Sexton] died, leaving his vast property accumulations to one hundred two heirs, the nearest of kin being two nieces. When the question of disposing of the hill Cumorah property came up, certain of the principal heirs, influenced, more or less, by prejudice, were opposed to selling it to the Mormons at any price and were even willing to lose their share, if need be, to keep it from falling into our hands. Death removed some of those opposed and, early in the present year [1928], it seemed that the coast was about clear of obstacles. I had a talk with the attorney who represented some of the more obstreperous ones and during the next meeting of the executors and heirs, or their representatives, there was no protest registered. The attorney for the estate called me by phone and wanted to see me at once. He seemed ready and eager to talk business; was in a very pleasant mood. After examining a number of propositions, one came up that I thought we might accept. I told him to put it in writing, sign it and get the other executor (one had previously died) to sign it, and I would make a deposit if necessary, and start negotiations. The agreement was written and signed. I went home and immediately wrote to the authorities, enclosing the proposition with signed agreement, asking them to consider it if they felt that the right time had arrived for us to acquire the hill Cumorah. This was on February 2, and, in a few days, I received the following letter, dated also February 2:

“See lawyer of Sexton estate and get definite offer for Hill Cumorah alone if possible, if not with adjacent properties. Put it in writing and put up forfeit and let us hear from you at earliest convenience.”

The letter was signed by each member of the First Presidency – President Heber J. Grant, A. W. Ivins and C. W. Nibley.  By the time the First Presidency’s letter arrived, Willard had already gotten the offer they requested.

The following day Willard received a telegram reading:

“Terms satisfactory. Close deal.”

Willard remembered President Nibley’s words when he said, “When the Lord wants us to get possession of that hill, the way will be opened up.”

President Grant remarked at General Conference in Salt Lake City, “We have recently come into possession of the Hill Cumorah, and it looks very much like it came about providentially.”

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Information about Rebecca Bean.

Information about Willard Bean’s boxing career.

The Bean family reforests the Hill Cumorah.

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Image Credits:

Hill Cumorah in Autumn — CastleGate Media LLC

Main Street Palmyra — Fellowcrafts Studio

Hill with horse and buggy — From the Willard and Rebecca Bean family collection

Heber J. Grant with others — From the Willard and Rebecca Bean family collection

Book of Mormon Geography — Early Research

Joseph-Knew-Willard-and-Rebecca-Bean-Wedding-PhotoOne-hundred years ago this month (February 2015) newlyweds Willard and Rebecca Bean moved into the Joseph Smith home near Palmyra, New York. President Joseph F. Smith had called and set them apart as missionaries. Their assignments were to

1. Make Friends

2. Farm the land

3. Preach the gospel

4. Baptize converts

5. Organize a branch of the church

They were set apart to serve for five years with a parenthetical “or more” attached to the call. Assignment number one, make friends, took nearly a decade. Before leaving their field of labor, they accomplished everything they were asked to do. The “or more” seemed prophetic when their mission stretched into nearly 25 years. They arrived in Palmyra as newlyweds and returned to Utah as grandparents.

More details about their extraordinary mission will be available this year when several books, including Willard’s autobiography, will be published.

Joseph-Knew-Willard-Bean-Geography-of-the-Book-of-Mormon-BookAs if making friends, farming the land, preaching the gospel, baptizing converts and organizing a branch of the church were not enough to keep him busy, Willard did some of the most detailed research into Book of Mormon geography that had been done up to that point in the church. With his co-author Cecil McGavin, he published the book “The Geography of the Book of Mormon”.

Wayne May, creator and publisher of Ancient American magazine, credits Willard Bean’s research with sparking his own interest in Book of Mormon lands in North America.

In this short video, Wayne talks with Lori Bean Henderson, a granddaughter of Willard and Rebecca. (4:13)

Watch for more information about Willard and Rebecca Bean here on Joseph Knew. We will keep you up to date on the publication of Willard’s books.

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CastleGate-Nedia---Geography-of-the-Book-of-Mormon

REPUBLISHED — Some of the earliest research into the lands of the Book of Mormon

“Geography of the Book of Mormon”

ThisIsTheMarketPlace.com

 

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DVD front JPG for other usesA new documentary about Willard and Rebecca Bean is now available. “Love Unfeigned” is a three-part DVD.

The Biography of Willard Bean chronicles his youth, his mission in the Southern States, his acting and political experiences in New York City, and his successful boxing career. — (17 minutes)

The Biography of Rebecca Bean tells of her family’s conversion in Denmark, her growing up in Richfield, Utah and her sacred experiences living in the Joseph Smith home in Palmyra, NY. (26 minutes) 

Love Unfeigned celebrates the 100-year legacy of Willard and Rebecca’s influence in Palmyra, NY. It includes interviews with Bean family members, local Palmyra residents and Book of Mormon scholars. The DVD includes never before seen photos from the Bean family collection. (60 minutes)

To order your copy, visit “This is the MarketPlace”.

________________________________

 Ancient-American-cover

Wayne May’s Ancient American magazine is available here.

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Preparing for War

Joseph Knew - Alma 47-8To protect his people from the Lamanites, Captain Moroni ordered fortifications erected. In chapters 48 and 49 of Alma we find descriptions of these forts.

“Yea, he had been strengthening the armies of the Nephites, and erecting small forts, or places of resort; throwing up banks of earth round about to enclose his armies, and also building walls of stone to encircle them about, round about their cities and the borders of their lands; yea, all round about the land.” (Alma 48:8)

“And behold, the city had been rebuilt, and Moroni had stationed an army by the borders of the city, and they had cast up dirt round about to shield them from the arrows and the stones of the Lamanites; for behold, they fought with stones and with arrows.” (Alma 49:2)

Although we don’t know for sure where Captain Moroni erected these fortifications, the ruins of such cities have been found all along the Great Lakes area of western New York. In his 1850 book, Orasmus Turner describes ancient fortresses found scattered between Rochester and Buffalo, NY. What he describes has many similarities to the forts spoken of in Alma.

Joseph Knew - Earthen wall and ditch Newark“These forts were, generally speaking, erected on the most commanding ground. The walls or breastworks were earthen. The ditches were on the exterior of works. On some of the parapets, oak trees were to be seen, which, from the number of concentric circles, must have been standing 150, 260, and 300 years; and there were evident indications, not only that they had sprung up since the creation of those works, but that they were at the least a second growth. The trenches were in some cases deep and wide, and in others shallow and narrow; and the breastworks varied in altitude from three to eight feet. They sometimes had one, and sometimes two entrances, as was to be inferred from there being no ditch at those places. When the works were protected by a deep ravine or a large stream of water no ditch was to be seen. The areas of these forts varied from two to six acres; and the form was generally an irregular ellipsis; and in some of them fragments of earthenware and pulverized substances, supposed to have been originally human bones, were to be found.” (O. Turner, Pioneer History of the Holland Purchase of Western New York. 1850, pages 20-21)

Such fortresses have been discovered throughout the heartland of North America, but the greatest concentration is found in western New York, in the area around Cumorah.

JosephKnew-Land-of-Many-Waters-with-red-dotAgain from Turner’s book:

“Although not peculiar to this region, there is perhaps no portion of the United States where ancient relics are more numerous. Commencing principally near the Oswego River, they extend westwardly over all the western counties of our State, Canada West, the western Lake Region, the vallies of the Ohio and the Mississippi.” (O. Turner, Pioneer History of the Holland Purchase of Western New York. 1850, page 19)

Turner described the land Cumorah as an area favorable for living, because of an abundance of wildlife and because of its agricultural opportunities and access to rivers and lakes.

“The Forest invited to the chase; the Lakes and Rivers to local commerce, —to the use of the net and the angling rod; the soil, to agriculture.” (O. Turner, Pioneer History of the Holland Purchase of Western New York. 1850, page 19)

But the area was not only a desirable place to live, it was also a place well positioned for defense against the enemy.

Joseph Knew - Holland purchase - light“Here and there upon the brows of our hills, at the head of our ravines, are their fortifications; their locations selected with skill, adapted to refuge, subsistence and defense. (O. Turner, Pioneer History of the Holland Purchase of Western New York. 1850, page 18)

In an 1843 book, Alexander W. Bradford came to several conclusions about the early inhabitants of western New York.

“The best military judges have observed the skill with which the sites of many of the fortifications have been selected, and the artful combination of natural advantages with artificial means of defense exhibited in their construction. The care taken in their erection must have been necessary for the protection against a powerful external enemy, or from internal wars.

“Upon the whole, we may with justice say of these nations, from a review of their relics and monuments thus far,

  1. That they were all of the same origin, branches of the same race, and possessed of similar customs and institutions.
  2. That they were populous, and occupied a great extent of territory.
  3. That they had arrived at a considerable degree of civilization, were associated in large communities, and lived in extensive cities.
  4. That they possessed the use of many of the metals, such as lead, copper, gold, silver, and probably the art working in them.
  5. That they sculptured in stone, and sometimes used that material in the construction of their edifices.
  6. That they had the knowledge of the arch of receding steps; of the art of pottery, — producing utensils and urns formed with taste, and constructed upon the principles of composition: and of the art of brick-making.
  7. That they worked in salt springs, and manufactured that substance.
  8. That they were an agricultural people, living under the influence and protection of regular forms of government.
  9. That they possessed a decided system of religion, and a mythological connection with astronomy, which with its sister science geometry, was in the hands of the priesthood.
  10. That they were skilled in the art of fortification.
  11. That the epoch of their original settlement, in the United States, is of great antiquity.” (Alexander W. Bradford, American Antiquities and Research into the Origin and History of the Red Race, 1843, pages 69-71)

In his book, Aboriginal Monuments of the State of New York, 1849, E. G. Squire documented more than 1,000 such sites in Ontario, Livingston, Genesee and Monroe Counties. Squire researched ancient cities throughout America’s heartland and concluded, “There is not an area of like size in the United States east of the Ohio and south of the Mason and Dixon Line where evidence of aboriginal occupation are so abundant.”

1 And now it came to pass that Moroni did not stop making preparations for war, or to defend his people against the Lamanites; for he caused that his armies should commence in the commencement of the twentieth year of the reign of the judges, * that they should commence in digging up heaps of earth round about all the cities, throughout all the land which was possessed by the Nephites.

2 And upon the top of these ridges of earth he caused that there should be timbers, yea, works of timbers built up to the height of a man, round about the cities.

3 And he caused that upon those works of timbers there should be a frame of pickets built upon the timbers round about; and they were strong and high. (Alma 50:1-3) * 72 B.C.

Copyright © 2015 by Energy Media Works LLC

When using portions of this article, please credit: JosephKnew.com

If you have comments or questions, we would like to hear them. Just click on leave a comment below.

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Joseph Knew - Willard and Rebecca BeanA new documentary about Willard and Rebecca Bean is now available. “Love Unfeigned” is a three-part DVD.

The Biography of Willard Bean chronicles his youth, his mission in the Southern States, his acting and political experiences in New York City, and his successful boxing career. — (17 minutes)

The Biography of Rebecca Bean tells of her family’s conversion in Denmark, her growing up in Richfield, Utah and her sacred experiences living in the Joseph Smith home in Palmyra, NY. (26 minutes)

Love Unfeigned celebrates the 100-year legacy of Willard and Rebecca’s influence in Palmyra, NY. It includes interviews with Bean family members, local Palmyra residents and Book of Mormon scholars. The DVD includes never before seen photos from the Bean family collection. (60 minutes)

To order your copy, visit “This is the MarketPlace”.

________________________________

Like Joseph Knew on Facebook to stay up to date on what’s happening.

Joseph Knew is part of the Mormon Media Network.

___________________________________

Additional information:

For information about the evidence of wars in the Great Lakes area, see the Joseph Knew article “Giants in the Land”.

Check out all previous posts on the Joseph Knew home page

Fortress drawing from the book, Aboriginal Monuments of the State of New York by E.G. Squire, 1849

Two Cumorahs?

If one subscribes to the theory that events in the Book of Mormon took place in Central and/or South America, then one automatically subscribes to the theory that there were two Hill Cumorahs. One in Central America where the great finals battles took place, and another some 5,000 miles away in New York to where Moroni traveled for the sole purpose of depositing the plates.

In his April, 1953 General Conference address, Apostle Mark E. Peterson said:

“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.”

There are two common arguments Mesoamerica proponents present:

The hill in New York is too small.

In the sixth chapter of Mormon, Mormon describes the battle which took place in the “land of Cumorah”. In verses 11-14 he lists 13 leaders whose ten thousands had fallen. In the next verse he mentions ten other un-named leaders, each with ten thousand. Some proponents of a Mesoamerica Cumorah argue that the Hill in New York is too small to support a battle between 230,000 people and their enemies.

Mormon does not say the battle took place on the hill. He only says they pitched their tents around the hill. The only mention of being on the hill is in verse 11 when he climbs to the top of the hill, “when the Lamanites had returned unto their camps”. It was from the top of the hill he viewed the carnage below him around the hill. This might suggest the hill was so small that Mormon had to wait for the Lamanites to leave the area, and “return to their camps”, before he could climb to the top without being seen.

Nothing in the text indicates that the battle took place on the hill or even adjacent to the hill where the Nephites pitched their tents. But even if the fighting did take place right next to the hill, there is plenty of room for 230,000 people and their enemies to do battle. Today 8,000 chairs are set up in one small space at the northwest corner of the hill for the annual Hill Cumorah Pageant.

The Climate in North America is wrong.

Some proponents of Mesoamerica argue that because there is no mention of Book of Mormon people experiencing snow, Upstate New York is ruled out as a possible location for the final battle. It’s cold in the Rochester and Buffalo areas, and the Book of Mormon writers don’t mention experiencing snow or even winter. Therefore, there must have been no winter.

Although the words winter, spring, summer and autumn are not mentioned, we do know there were seasons.

“And there were some who died with fevers, which at some seasons of the year were very frequent in the land—but not so much so with fevers, because of the excellent qualities of the many plants and roots which God had prepared to remove the cause of diseases, to which men were subject by the nature of the climate—“ (Alma 46:40)

We also know that temperatures varied.

“And it came to pass that when the night had come, Teancum and his servant stole forth and went out by night, and went into the camp of Amalickiah; and behold, sleep had overpowered them because of their much fatigue, which was caused by the labors and heat of the day.” (Alma 51:33)

This single verse in Alma and the fact that the Lamanites came to battle wearing nothing but a loin cloth have caused many to believe Book of Mormon lands must have been tropical.

In July, 1609 French explorer Samuel de Champlain joined a war party at the borders of Vermont and New York. Below is his sketch depicting the Mohawk warriors doing battle completely naked. Clearly it was warm enough to do battle dressed in little or nothing at all.

JosephKnew-Samuel-de-Champlain-sketch

One might agree that July in New York could be loincloth weather, but if, as the Book of Mormon tells us, the battle took place on the last day of the Nephite year it would be too cold for such clothing, or lack of it.

The question we need to ask is whether or not the Nephites used the Gregorian calendar we use today. Because they were Jews who came to the Promised Land in 600 BC, it is logical they would not be using the Gregorian calendar. The book of 3 Nephi gives us insight into how their calendar was laid out.

Speaking of the great storm and destruction that accompanied the death of Christ, it reads:

“And it came to pass in the thirty and fourth year, in the first month, on the fourth day of the month, there arose a great storm, such an one as never had been known in all the land.” (3 Nephi 8:5)

We know that Christ died in April on our calendar. That establishes our April as the first month of the Nephite calendar. If the battle took place the last day of the Nephite year, that puts it some time in April. Looking at recorded temperatures for mid April in Upstate New York of the past 100 years, we find that temperatures in the 80s are not uncommon.

Arguments for the New York Hill

Some argue that Moroni’s reference to the New York hill as Cumorah was a typonym in the same way the people in the British colonies of North America named locations after places in their homeland, examples being New York, New Jersey, New England. Other examples of naming places in honor of someplace else are Bethlehem, PA or Bethesda, MA. There is an important difference here with the Hill Cumorah. British colonists knew that New York was not the same place as York in England. Joseph Smith believed the Hill in New York to be the Hill Cumorah from the Book of Mormon and Moroni never corrected that assumption.

Another good argument is that it is a hill. Unlike Cerro el Vigia, one proposed hill in Mexico, the New York hill rises 220-230 feet from base to top. Cerro el Vidia stands 2,700 feet from base to top. A “hill” of 2,700 feet is a mountain and surely would have been described as such by Mormon.

The “land of Cumorah”, is described as “a land of many waters, rivers and fountains”. The area around the Hill Cumorah certainly fits that description. New York, Pennsylvania and Ohio are home to nearly 400 lakes including the Great Lakes.

In their 1949 book, “The Geography of the Book of Mormon”, Willard Bean and E. Cecil McGavin propose the Finger Lakes area of New York as the Land of Many Waters. Below is an image from their book. We have added a red dot to indicate where the Hill Cumorah is located on this map.

JosephKnew-Land-of-Many-Waters-with-red-dot

 

There are many strong arguments for the hill in New York being the Hill Cumorah, but the strongest of these arguments is that Moroni himself said it was.

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Additional information:

For more information about the Nephite calendar, see Rod Meldrum’s book, “The Book of Mormon in America’s Heartland”.

For more information about Moroni and the Hill Cumorah, see the Joseph Knew article “They Wrote the Book”.

For information about the evidence of wars in the Great Lakes area, see the Joseph Knew article “Giants in the Land”.

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Cumorah photo, 1907 by George Edward Anderson