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:

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)

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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3 thoughts on “Battles in Cumorahland

  1. I think is dangerous to say “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.”
    There are other options for the Hill Cumorah and Ramah. Please check

    1. Actually, I don’t think that it is a dangerous assumption at all. Here are a couple things to look at:

      “Within recent years there has arisen among certain students of the Book of Mormon a theory to the effect that within the period covered by the Book of Mormon, the Nephites and Lamanites were confined almost entirely within the borders of the territory comprising Central America and the southern portion of Mexico-the isthmus of Tehauntepec probably being the “narrow neck” of land spoken of in the Book of Mormon rather than the isthmus of Panama.

      “This modernistic theory of necessity, in order to be consistent, must place the waters of Ripliancum and the Hill Cumorah some place within the restricted territory of Central America, notwithstanding the teachings of the Church to the contrary for upwards of 100 years. Because of this theory some members of the Church have become confused and greatly disturbed in their faith in the Book of Mormon. It is for this reason that evidence is here presented to show that it is not only possible that these places could be located as the Church has held during the past century, but that in very deed such is the case.”

      Doctrines of Salvation, comp. Bruce R. McConkie, 3:232–243.

      Also, see Letter VII written by Oliver Cowdery.

      And… here are some other quotes on the topic:

      Cumorah: Six Documentary Testimonies That Moroni Told Joseph Smith The Name Of The Hill in Palmyra, New York, Prior To The Translation Of The Plates.

      1. The only first-person source comes from the epistle that Joseph Smith dictated on September 6, 1842, which was later canonized in the Doctrine and Covenants, Section 128.

      Glad tidings from Cumorah! Moroni, an angel from heaven, declaring the fulfillment of the prophets — the book to be revealed. (D&C 128:20)

      The inference is that Joseph knew the name “Cumorah” before the book was revealed. That knowledge could only have come from Moroni. This is substantiated in the subsequent documents.

      2. An early documentary source confirming the above, are the lines from a sacred hymn, written by W.W. Phelps. William Phelps lived with the Prophet in Kirtland and was in essence his executive secretary during the Nauvoo period.

      An angel came down from the mansions of glory,
      And told that a record was hid in Cumorah,
      Containing the fulness of Jesus’s gospel;
      (Collection of Sacred Hymns, 1835, Hymn 16, page 22,

      It was the angel who told Joseph that the record was hid in “Cumorah.” This hymn was selected by Emma Smith, wife of the Prophet, approved by the Prophet, and published in 1835 with a collection of hymns, under instructions and directions from the Lord. “And it shall be given thee, also, to make a selection of sacred hymns, as it shall be given thee, which is pleasing unto me, to be had in my church.” (D&C 25:1)

      This hymn was also included in the 1841 edition as hymn #262.

      3. Oliver Cowdery, Second Elder of the Church and Co-President with Joseph Smith, stated the following in 1831:

      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 P.P. Pratt p 56-61)

      The Autobiography of Parley Parker Pratt was complied, edited and published in1881 by his son, from the documents and records left by his father after his death. From the length and detail of the address given by Oliver Cowdery in 1831, from which the above quote is taken, it had to have been recorded by Parley P. Pratt at the time it was spoken. “In writing his autobiography, Pratt relied heavily on his previous writings. After extensive analysis, Pratt family historian Steven Pratt concluded that almost ninety percent of the text is either based on or copied from earlier works” (Matt Grow, assistant professor of history at the University of Southern Indiana.)

      4. The Prophet’s mother, Lucy Mack Smith, provides two separate items of evidence in the original manuscript of her memoirs. In the first item, Lucy is remembering what Joseph told her after Moroni first appeared to him. The quote begins with what Moroni had told Joseph:

      Now Joseph beware when you go to get the plates your mind will be filld with darkness and all man[n]er of evil will rush into your mind. To keep you from keeping the comman dments of God and you must tell your father of this for he will believe every word you say the record is on a side hill on the Hill of Cumorah 3 miles from this place remove the Grass and moss and you will find a large flat stone pry that up and you will find the record under it laying on 4 pillars — then the angel left him. [sic] (Lucy Mack Smith, History 1844–1845, Original Manuscript, page 41)

      Lucy dictated the above about 20 years after the fact, but it is consistent with other evidence. In the following, Lucy recalls directly what her son said in her presence. Following Joseph’s meeting with Moroni at Cumorah, one year before Joseph received the plates, Joseph told his parents that he had “taken the severest chastisement that I have ever had in my life.” Joseph said:

      it was the an gel of the Lord— as I passed by the hill of Cumo rah, where the plates are, the angel of the Lord met me and said, that I had not been engaged enough in the work of the Lord; that the time had come for the record to brought forth; and, that I must be up and doing, and set myself about the things which God had commanded me to do: [sic] (Lucy Mack Smith, History 1844–1845, Original Manuscript, page 111)

      In both of these quotes from the Prophet’s mother, she demonstrates that in her mind it was Moroni, who told Joseph, prior to the translation of the plates, that the hill in Palmyra was named Cumorah.

      5. David Whitmer confirmed this in an interview in his later years when he stated:

      [Joseph Smith] told me…he had a vision, an angel appearing to him three times in one night and telling him that there was a record of an ancient people deposited in a hill near his fathers house called by the ancients “Cumorah” situated in the township of Manchester, Ontario county N.Y…” (Milton V. Backman, Jr., “Eyewitness Accounts of the Restoration,” p. 233)

      6. Parley P Pratt wrote the following, which was published in 1841:

      “An Angel from on high, The long, long silence broke – Descending from the sky, These gracious words he spoke: “Lo! in Cumorah’s lonely hill A sacred record lies concealed.””

      How often have we sung this song without noticing that it was a quote from Moroni?

      All of the documentary evidence is consistent that it was Moroni who told Joseph Smith, prior to the translation of the Gold Plates, that the ancient name of the hill in Palmyra was “Cumorah.” There is no evidence to the contrary.

    2. I’m just a dumb old retired high school teacher and BYU alumnus. I have never read from any of the “professional” history professors even one fourth of the evidence to support their claims of the location of the land of the Nephites and Jaredites than what has been produced in these pages. I am both amazed and extremely thankful for this “lay” research. I have much more faith in the statements of our early disciples and church authorities who spoke, marched, walked , and prayed with Joseph than our contemporaries.

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