Copyright Wayne N. May and Edwin G. Goble
Copyright © Taken from the book: This Land: Zarahemla and the Nephite Nation. Special thanks to Wayne N. May. Please do not copy.
And again, what do we hear? Glad tidings from Cumorah! Moroni, an angel from heaven,declaring the fulfillment of the prophets–the book to be revealed. (D&C 128:20)
It is plain that this scripture is calling the hill in New York by that name. It is odd that rational individuals would dispute that this is the very hill that was called by this name in the Book of Mormon as well. But as there exists such a controversy, we have to deal with it head on. Quibblers usually say that the brethren, including Joseph, came to call it by that name, but it was not the actual ancient battlefield where the Nephites perished. They say, even if Joseph believed it to be, they don’t have to take that as evidence, as it must have been his mere opinion.
If it is not an ancient battlefield, it is odd, then that J. Golden Kimball would report the following:
Heber C. Kimball said it was revealed to him that the last great destruction of the wicked would be on the lakes near the Hill Cumorah. 1
We see through the light of revelation that the wicked of this nation will someday be destroyed in that very area, repeating the same pattern over and over again. The Nephites were destroyed there. The Jaredites were destroyed there. Will our nation go to Mexico to be destroyed at Cummorah? Of course not. Can there be any doubt that these lakes referred to are the Great Lakes? Brigham Young 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. 2
We have many accounts of there being a cave in the hill.
Account #1–Brigham Young stated:
The treasures that are in the earth are carefully watched, they can be moved from place to place according to the good pleasure of Him who made them and owns them . . . 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 . . . the hill opened, and they walked into a cave . . . They laid the plates on a table . . . and there were altogether in this room more plates than probably many wagon loads . . . I tell you this as coming not only from Oliver Cowdery, but others who were familiar with it. 3
Account #2–Brigham Young told the School of the Prophets the following, on December 11, 1869:
. . . in relation to Joseph Smith returning the Plates of the Book of Mormon, that He did not return them to the box from whence He had Received [them]. But he went [into] a cave in the Hill Cumorah with Oliver Cowdery, and deposited those plates upon a table or shelf. And in that room were deposited a large amount of gold plates containing sacred records. And when they first visited that room, the sword of Laban was hanging upon the wall, and when they last visited it, the sword was drawn from the scabbard and laid upon the table. And a Messenger who was the keeper of the room informed them that the sword would never be returned to its scabbard until the Kingdom of God was established upon Earth, and until it reigned triumphant over every enemy. Joseph Smith said that cave contained tons of choice treasures and records. 4.
Account #3–The account of William W. Phelps is the earliest known account:
Joseph, Hyrum, Cowdery and Whitmer went to the Hill Cumorah. As they were walking up the hill, a door opened, and they walked into a room about 16 feet square. In that room was an angel and a trunk. On that trunk lay a Book of Mormon and gold plates, Laban’s sword. [ed.] 5
Account #4–Elizabeth Kane’s account of what she was told by Brigham and others about what happened in the cave:
I asked where the plates where now . . . I was answered that they were in a cave, that Oliver Cowdery, though now an apostate, would not deny that he had seen them. He had been to the cave. I did not understand exactly whether Oliver Cowdery was there three times, or whether he accompanied Joseph the third time he went there. And Brigham Young’s tone was so solemn that I listened bewildered . . . Brigham Young said that when Oliver Cowdery and Joseph Smith were in the cave this third time, they could see its contents more distinctly than before, just as your eyes get used to the light of a dim candle, and objects in the room become plain to you. It was about fifteen feet high, and round its sides were hanged boxes of treasure. In the center was a large stone table, empty before, but now piled with similar gold plates, some of which also lay scattered on the floor beneath. Formerly, the sword of Laban hung on the walls sheathed, but it was now unsheathed and lying across the plates on the table; and One that was with them said it was never to be sheathed until the reign of righteousness upon the earth. [ed.] 6
Account #5–Orson Pratt’s account:
The Hill Cumorah is situated in western New York . . . the grand depository 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. 7
Account #6–David Whitmer’s account according to Edward Stevenson:
It was likewise stated to me by DAvid Whitmer in the year 1877 that Oliver Cowdery told him that the Prophet Joseph and himself had seen this room and that it was filled with treasure, and on a table therein were the breastplate and the sword of Laban, as well as the portion of the gold plates not yet translated, and that these plates were bound by three small gold rings, and would also be translated, as was the first portion in the days of Joseph. When they are translated much useful information will be brought to light. But till that day arrives, no Rochester adventurers shall ever see them or the treasures, although science and mineral rods testify that they are there. At the proper time when greed, selfishness and corruption shall cease to reign in the hearts of the people, these vast hordes of hidden treasure shall be brought forth to be used for the cause and kindgom of Jesus Christ. 8.
Account #7–Heber C. Kimball’s account:
How does it compare with the vision that Joseph and others had, when they went into a cave in the hill Cumorah, and saw more records than ten men could carry? There were books piled up on tables, book upon book. Those records this people will yet have, if they accept of the Book of Mormon and observe its precepts, and keep the commandments. 9
While certain people may quibble, a remarkable consistency exists with regard to the most important issue, that the Cave of Records was in the Hill Cumorah in New York State. This shows the overwhelming historical support for the premise that the New York hill called Cumorah indeed is the site of the cave of records spoken of in Mormon 6:6. This automatically identifies this hill as the very Hill Cumorah where the Nephites perished, and there is no way around this conclusion if one takes these accounts at face value. The only way out of this would be to suppose that none of these authors were reporting the truth.
Clearly, the angel was indeed in the hill to meet them when he called for them to return the records. “And who is this angel? It was Moroni.” “When, according to arrangements, the messenger called for them, I delivered them up to him; and he has them in his charge until this day . . .” (JSH 1:60). After reviewing all of these accounts, there can be no doubt that this scripture i speaking of the very same incident as they are. Mormoni was physically present in the hill, according to the reports. The mere mention of this being a “vision” in account #7 of Heber C. Kimball is hardly proof that things weren’t physically there, and that these men and the angel weren’t physically in the hill, as some would have us believe. Surely, the apparition of Moroni in Joseph’s room is a prime example. Moroni was physically present, yet it was a heavenly visitation, which is easily termed a “vision” (Joseph Smith History 1:30). certainly, the First Vision in which Joseph saw the Father and the Son was referred to as a “vision” (Joseph Smith History 1:21), yet we know that this was a physical appearance of both personages (Joseph Smith History 1:17). Therefore, the historical evidence is overwhelming that the hill was Cumorah, the hill was the records’ depository, and the angel was in the hill.
For more historical statements, Joseph Smith wrote:
In this important and interesting book the history of ancient American is unfolded, from its first settlement . . . to the beginning of the fifth century of the Christian era. We are informed by these records that America in ancient times has been inhabited by two distinct races of people . . . The principal nation of the second race feell in battle towards the close of the fourth century. The remnant are the Indians that now inhabit this country. 10
Lucy Mack Smith, the mother of the Prophet wrote:
During our evening conversations, Joseph would occasionally give us some of the most amusing recitals that could be imagined. He would describe the ancient inhabitants of this continent, their dress, mode of travelings, and the animals upon which they rode; their cities, their buildings, with every particular; their mode of warfare; and also their religious worship. This he would do with as much ease, seemingly, as if he had spent his whole life among them. 11
She also wrote that Joseph Smith referred to the hill near Palmyra as Cumorah immediately after his first visit there:
“Stop, father, stop,” said Joseph, “it was the angel of the Lord. As I passed by the hill of Cumorah, where the plates are, the angel 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 be brought forth; and that I must be up and doing and set myself about the things which God had commanded me to do. But, father, give yourself no uneasiness concerning the reprimand which I have received, for I now know the course that I am to pursue, so all will be well.” 12
Here is a statement made by the Lord in a revelation that was given to Joseph Smith that is not contained in the Doctrine and Covenants:
Verily, Verily, saith the Lord, your Redeemer, even Jesus Christ . . . Verily, I say upon you, that the wisdom of man, in his fallen state, knoweth not the purposes and the privileges of my holy priesthood, but ye shall know when ye receive a fulness by reason of the anointing: it is my will, that in time, ye should take unto you wives of the Lamanites and Nephites, that their posterity may become white, delightsome and just, for even now their females are more virtuous than the gentiles. 13.
Even though they never had a chance to fulfill this, it shows that there are descendants of Nephites in the Missouri area, or how could anyone marry them? This was a revelation. So, the Land of Zarahemla was in the United States, since the Book of Mormon account shows us that most of the Nephite history took place in the general land of Zarahemla. On June 4, 1834, during Zion’s Camp, Joseph Smith and his company arrived on the banks of the Mississippi River, where he wrote a letter to his wife Emma. He wrote:
We arrived this morning on the banks of the Mississippi . . . we left the eastern part of the state of Ohio . . . The whole of our journey, in the midst of so large a company of social honest and sincere men, wandering over the plains of the Nephites, recounting occasionally the history of the Book of Mormon, roving over the mounds of that once beloved people of the Lord, picking up their skulls & their bones, as a proof of its divine authenticity, and gazing upon a country the fertility, the splendor and the goodness so indescribable . . . (signed) Joseph Smith, Jr. 14.
An account exists of what a non-member by the name of David Marks was told about the Book of Mormon by LDS missionaries:
Shortly after the Book of Mormon’s publication, David Marks visited the Ohio mounds and like many wondered who had built them. When he was told that the Book of Mormon gave a history of them, and of their authors, he became anxious to get a copy even though he doubted its historicity. 15.
We have other accounts:
In the 1834 Unitarian (Boston) reported that the Mormons “Suppose the mounds throughout the western states, which have heretofore excited so much curiosity, are the remains of the cities of the Nephites and Lamanites.” Edward Stuart Abdey wrote in 1835 that “the mounds of earth, which, as they now exist in that part of the country, have given rise to so much interest and speculation, are referred to, by the preachers of the Mormon faith, as proofs of these theocratic tribes. And Mormon elder Charles Thompson added in an 1841 pamphlet that such similarities were “sufficient to show to the public that the people whose history is contained in the Book of Mormon, are the authors of these works.” 16.
Joseph Smith in 1838 said the following about “Tower” hill in Adam-Ondi-Ahman:
“He [Wight] lives at the foot of Tower Hill (a name I gave the place in consequence of the remains of an old Nephite altar or tower that stood there) . . .(History of the Church 3:34-35).” This statement again shows us where the Nephites lived. George W. Robinson, a scribe of Joseph Smith who was with him at the time, writes: We next kept [traveling]up the river mostly in the timber for ten miles, until we came to Colonel Lyman Wight’s who lives at the foot of Tower Hill. A name appropriated by President Smith in consequence of the remains of an old Nephitish Altar and Tower where we camped for the Sabbath. 17.
We have been to Adam-Ondi-Ahman, and there are large stones scattered around on top of Tower Hill that are the remains of a structures, so it was apparently a Hopewellian stone tower or altar as indicated by Joseph. In connection with this, George W. Robinson in 1838 also wrote:
President Smith and myself . . . returned to the camp in Robinson’s Grove . We next scouted west in order to obtain some game to supply our necessities but found or killed none. We [found] some ancient antiquities about one mile west of the camp, which consisted of stone mounds , apparently laid up in square piles, though somewhat decayed and obliterated by the almost continual rains. Undoubtedly these were made to seclude some valuable treasures deposited by the aborigines of this land. 18.
Joseph Smith wrote that “the Book of Mormon is a record of the forefathers of our western Tribes of Indians.” This was written in a letter to newspaper editor. 19.
A month later he wrote that the letter was written “by the commandment of God” 20.
The Zelph incident has been largely ignored but we will address it here by quoting from the work of James L. Bradley:
Before breaking camp the morning of June 3, the Prophet Joseph Smith, accompanied by several of the men, went to observe a large mound which was located approximately one mile below the Phillip’s Ferry crossing. It was of unusual size and lay within the proximity of a number of smaller mounds. Heber C. Kimball and Wilford Woodruff recorded in their journals that the mound was one hundred feet high and three hundred feet above the level of the river. The height of the mound enabled the men to look over the tops of the trees and view the surrounding area. At the crest of the mound, human bones were strewn around the base of what appeared to be a three-tiered altar. Heber C. Kimball wrote that the arrangement of the stones resembled the ancient order or altars..
The men were curious about the area, the mounds, and particularly about the scattered bones. As they began to descend the mound, Joseph Smith suddenly stopped, pointed to the ground, and said, “Brethren, dig in there.” When the earth had been removed to the depth of one or two feet, the men found the skeleton of a large man. Journal accounts state that, “the bones were all there and in a good state of preservation.” Buried in the backbone, between the ribs of the man was a stone arrowhead which Milton Holmes took. Examining the skeleton more closely, it was noted that one of the thigh bones had been previously broken and knitted together. The thigh bones and the arrowhead were taken back to camp and placed in Wilford Woodruff’s wagon. The skeleton was unusually large . It was estimated to be over eight feet tall.
It would seem that one of the journalists of Zion’s Camp, Moses Martin, was exaggerating when he gave Zelph’s height being approximately nine feet. Several accounts of large and mighty men are mentioned in the Bible and the Book of Mormon.
The Biblical accounts of David and his slaying the burly, boisterous, giant Goliath. Samson, although weak in moral character was notorious for his great physical strength. The Book of Mormon is no less explicit of mighty men of stature, physically and spiritually. Nephi, one of the more prominent Prophets of the Book of Mormon wrote: “And now I, Nephi, being a man large in stature, and having received much strength of the Lord, therefore I did seize upon the servant of Laban and held him, that he should not flee.”
Mormon, another Nephite Prophet; the Book of Mormon bearing his name, was large. Mormon became General of all the Nephite armies at the age of sixteen and was killed by opposing forces of the Lamanites at the age of 94. Mormon wrote concerning his appointment as General. “Notwithstanding I being young, was large in stature.”
The mound where Zelph lay appeared to be an ancient burial ground, which caused reverent and unusual feelings in the men.
“There was a great slaughter,” recorded Wilford Woodruff. “The bodies were heaped upon the earth, not buried in the ground, which raised a mound nearly three hundred feet in height.”
The Book of Mormon, cornerstone of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, gives numerous accounts of terrible wars between the American Indian tribes (called Nephites and Lamanites in the Book of Mormon) prior to the coming of the white men. At times, when these inhabitants of the Americas, though taught by Prophets, forgot God; breaking His laws and commandments–horrifying wars of tremendous proportions engulfed the inhabitants of the land. Thousands of men, women, and children were slaughtered in numerous wars. Participants in Zion’s Camp, knowing of those wars through reading The Book of Mormon, were understandably interested in the hundreds of mounds through Ohio and Illinois.
That the reader may more fully understand the interest and feelings of Zion’s Camp men as they stood on the prominent 300-foot-high mound above the Illinois River, the authors insert eye witness accounts of only two great battles. Nephi, an ancient Prophet mentioned in the Book of Mormon given his personal record of one of the battles as follows:
“And the battle commenced in the sixth month; and great and terrible was the battle thereof, yea, great and terrible was the slaughter thereof. insomuch that there never was known so great a slaughter among all the people of Lehi since he left Jerusalem.”
Mormon, another ancient American Prophet and General whose sacred record bears his name, recorded on gold plates 385 AD the following:
“And it came to pass that they (meaning the Lamanites) came to battle against us, (meaning the Nephites) and every soul was filled with terror because of the greatness of their numbers.”
After the terrible conflict wherein 230,000 men, women and children were slain Mormon records his distress by writing:
“And my soul was rent with anguish, because of the slain of my people, and I cried: O ye fair ones, how could ye have departed from the ways of the Lord! O ye fair ones, how could ye have rejected that Jesus, who stood with open arms to receive you! Behold, if ye had not done this, ye would not have fallen. But behold, ye are fallen, and I mourn your loss.”
Returning to their camp, the men loaded their belongings, hitched their teams, and moved toward Pittsfield, Pike County, Illinois. They reached Pittsfield, a distance of nine miles, at noon. During the noon break, while lying in a wagon, the Prophet Joseph Smith “had the visions of the past opened to his understanding”. The history of the man whose bones had been uncovered that morning was revealed to the Prophet. His name was Zelph. Joseph Smith related to the men, in detail, information he had received by vision.
Levi Hancock, Moses Martin, Heber C. Kimball, Wilford Woodruff, George A. Smith, and other journalists wrote concerning the Prophet’s remarks. Hancock recorded the following:
This land was called the land of “Desolation” and Anandagwas [correctly spelled Onanndagus] was the king and a good man was he. There in that mound did he bury his dead and did not dig a hole as the people do now. They brought their dirt and covered them until you see they have raised it to be a hundred feet high. Moses Martin confirms Hancock’s account of the severity of the ancient struggle. Martin wrote: “Thus we found these mounds to be deposits for the dead which had fallen, no doubt in some great battle. In addition to this we found many large fortifications which denotes a civilization and an innumerable population which had fallen by wars and commotions.”
The finding of Zelph and the subsequent revelation concerning his people is of particular significance to the mormons and to all other people. When Mormon, the Nephite General was finishing his abridgement of the many records placed in his care, he indicated the purpose of the records and to whom these important, sacred scriptures were to come. He recorded:
“Which is to show unto the remnant of the House of Israel what great things the Lord hath done for their fathers; and that they may know the covenants of the Lord, that they are not cast off forever. And also to the convincing of the Jew and Gentile that Jesus is the Christ, the Eternal God, manifesting himself unto all nations.”
When Joseph Smith told the assembled men the name of the ancient Prophet he also detailed to them particulars concerning “Zelph’s” life and activities. “He was a white Lamanite,” reported the Prophet, “a man of God, and due to his righteousness the color of his skin was changed.” Joseph Smith related other details of Zelph which were recorded by Wilford Woodruff. Woodruff wrote, “He had been a great warrior and chieftain who had fought in several battles for freedom. While engaged in battle Zelph had his thigh bone broken from the sling of a stone.”
Levi Hancock concluded his journal entry by writing the following: “Zelph had his thigh broken and was never set. It knitted together as you see on the side. He fought after it got strength, when the Lord said he had done enough and suffered him to be killed by that arrow taken from him.”
Regarding the final resting place of the thigh bones, Woodruff wrote that, “I, Wilford Woodruff, carried the the thigh bones to Clay County and buried them in that county. I desired to bury it in the Temple Block in Jackson County, but not having that privilege, I buried it in Clay County, Missouri, near the house owned by Colonel Arthur and occupied by Lyman Wight.” The arrowhead was given to Brigham Young by Milton Holmes, and Young later placed the arrow point in the Joseph F. Smith collection.” 21
Brigham Young identified St. George, Utah as the site where the Gadianton robbers were found at one point. 22
On another occasion something else happened:
When President Young visited the proposed sites, he requested that his teamster conduct the party to the lowest place in the valley, a veritable swamp infested with marsh-grass and cattails. Pointing out the marsh to the brethren, he explained that the [St. George] Temple must be built at that place, because the Nephites had previously dedicated that very site for the erection of a Temple, but had been unable to bring their hopes to a full fruition. 23.
Another account by David Henry Cannon Jr., a witness to the event, says:
To the South, they finally stopped. ‘But, Brother Young,’ protested the men, ‘this land is boggy . . . There is no place to build a foundation. We will make a foundation, said President Young. Later on while plowing and scraping where the foundation was to be, my horse’s leg broke through the ground into a spring of water. The brethren then wanted to move the foundation line twelve feet to the south, so that the spring of water would be on the outside of the Temple. Not so,’ replied President Young, ‘We will wall it up and leave it here for some future use. But we cannot move the foundation. This spot was dedicated by the Nephites. They could not build it (the Temple), but we can and will build it for them.’ To this day the water from that very spring is running through a drain properly built for it. 24.
Once, Brigham Young, accompanied by Warren S. Snow, went to where they would build the Manti Temple. Warren S. Snow said:
We two were alone: President Young took me to the spot where the Temple was to stand; we went to the southeast corner, and President Young said: ‘Here is the spot where the Prophet Moroni stood and dedicated this piece of land for a Temple site, and that is the reason why the location is made here, and we can’t move it from this spot; and if you and I are the only good persons that come here at high noon today, we will dedicate this ground.’ 25.
Upon one occasion President Brigham Young was in the Tabernacle at St. George and was speaking on the spirit world. He stated that it was not far from us and if the veil could be taken from our eyes there wouldn’t be either a man, woman or child who would dare go out of “this tabernacle as the spirits of the Gadianton robbers were so thick out there. This is where they lived in these mountains,” said he. 26
Of course, the significance of this statement makes sense only in light of the land of Zarahemla being in the United States. The Nephites wouldn’t have gone all the way from Mexico into the United States to hunt the Gadianton Robbers, nor would the GAdiantons have gone into the United States to hide from Nephites in Mexico. It is clear that since the Gadianton Robbers were hiding out in Utah in the St. George region, the Land of Zarahemla must have been in the United States as well. The “mountains” mentioned in the following scriptures, therefore, are the Rocky Mountains of the United States.
And it came to pass that it was expedient that there should be a stop put to this work of destruction; therefore they sent an army of strong men into the wilderness and upon the mountains to search out this band of robbers, and to destroy them.
And they were again obliged to return out of the wilderness and out of the mountains unto their own lands, because of the exceeding greatness of the numbers of those robbers who infested the mountains and the wilderness.
3 Nephi 1:27
And it came to pass that the ninety and third year did also pass away in peace, save it were for the Gadianton Robbers, who dwelt upon the mountains, who did infest the land; for so strong were their holds and their secret places that the people could not overpower them; therefore they did commit many murders, and did do much slaughter among the people.
3 Nephi 2:17
And it came to pass in the commencement of the fourteenth year, the war between the robbers and the people of Nephi did continue and did become exceedingly sore; nevertheless, the people of Nephi did gain some advantage of the robbers, insomuch that they did drive them back out of their lands into the mountains and into their secret places.
The following is part of Oliver Cowdery’s speech to the Delaware Indians (or Lenni Lenape):
Once the red men were many; they occupied the country from sea to sea — from the rising to the setting sun; the whole land . . . Thousands of moons ago, when the red men’s forefathers dwelt in peace and possessed this whole land the Great Spirit talked with them, and revealed His law and His will and much knowledge to their wise men and prophets. This they wrote in a Book . . . written on plates of gold and handed down from father to son for many ages and generations.
It was then that the people prospered and were strong and mighty; they cultivated the earth, built buildings and cities and abounded in all good things, as the pale faces now do . . .
This Book, which contained these things was hid in the earth by Moroni, in a hill called by him Cumorah, which hill is now in the state of New York, near the village of Palmyra, in Ontario county . . . Thus ended our first Indian mission, in which we had preached the Gospel in its fullness and distributed the record of their forefathers among three viz.: the Cattaraugus Indians, near Buffalo, N.Y., the Wyandots, of Ohio and the Delawares, west of Missouri. 27
Here is a quotation from Doctrines of Salvation about the hill Cumorah written by Joseph Fielding Smith:
. . . It is known that the Hill Cumorah where the Nephites were destroyed is the hill where the Jaredites were also destroyed. This hill was known to the Jaredites as Ramah. It was approximately near to the waters of Ripliancum, which the Book of Ether says, “by interpretation, is large, or to exceed all.” Mormon adds: “And it came to pass that we did march forth to the land of 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 . . . for the hill is in the proximity of the Great Lakes and also in the land of many rivers and fountains . . . 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 . . . [would] not be corrected by the Prophet, if that were not the fact . . . The first reference of this kind is found in the Messenger and Advocate, a paper published by the Church in 1834-5.
Oliver Cowdery . . . makes reference to this particular spot. . . These letters in which these statements are made were written at the Prophet’s request and under his personal supervision . . . At the commencement of these historical letters is found the following:
That our narrative may be correct, and particularly the introduction, it is proper to inform our patrons, that our Brother J. Smith Jr., has offered to assist us. Indeed, there are many items connected with the fore part of this subject that render his labor indispensable. With his labor and with authentic documents now in our possession, we hope to render this a pleasing and agreeable narrative, well worth the examination and perusal of the saints. Later, during the Nauvoo period of the Church, and again under the direction of the Prophet Joseph Smith, these same letters by Oliver Cowdery were published in the Times and Seasons . . . ANCIENT CITY OF MANTI IN MISSOURI. The following is also taken from the history of the travels of the Kirtland Camp: “The camp passed through Huntsville, in Randolph County, which has been appointed as one of the stakes of Zion and is the ancient site of the City of Manti, and pitched tents at Dark Creek, Salt Licks, seventeen miles. It was reported to the camp that one hundred and ten men had volunteered from Randolph and gone to Far West to settle difficulties.”
The following account of the same event is taken from the daily journal of the Kirtland Camp, and was written by Samuel D. Tyler: September 25, 1838.
“We passed through Huntsville, Co. seat of Randolph Co, Pop. 450, and three miles further we bought 32 bu. of corn off one of the brethren who resides in this place. There are several of the brethren round about here and this is the ancient site of the City of Manti, which is spoken of in the Book of mormon and this is appointed one of the Stakes of Zion, and it is in Randolph County, Missouri, three miles west of the county seat.” . . [W]hat would be more natural then that Moroni, like his father Mormon, would deposit the plates in the land where the battles came to an end and the Nephites were destroyed? This Moroni says he did, and from all the evidence in the Book of Mormon, augmented by the testimony of the Prophet Joseph Smith, these final battles took place in the territory known as the United States and in the neighborhood of the Great Lakes and hills of Western New York. And here Moroni found the resting place for the sacred instruments which had been committed to his care . . . 28.
There is another statement about Manti in Missouri:
We came through Huntsville, the county seat of Randolph county . . . A mile and a half west of Huntsville, we crossed the east branch of Chariton [River], and one and a half miles west of the river we found Ira Ames and some other brethren near the place where the City of Manti is to be built, and encamped for the night on Dark Creek, six miles from Huntsville. Traveled this day seventeen miles. Distance from Kirtland, seven hundred and fifty-five miles. 29.
The following entry is for Sept. 25th, 1838.
Tuesday, 25th. The Camp passed through Huntsville, Randolph County, which has been appointed as one of the Stakes of Zion, and which the Prophet said was the ancient site of the City of Manti, and pitched tents at Dark Creek, Salt Licks; 17 miles. It was reported to the camp that 110 men had volunteered from Randolph and gone to Far West to settle difficulties. 30.
The Prophet Joseph Smith said that Manti was in Missouri.
As we have shown in the statements about Manti in Missouri, it was around the area of Huntsville, Missouri. Not only was it specifically designated as the ancient site of the city of Manti spoken of in the Book of Mormon, but, it was also stated that a city by that name was to be built by the saints near Huntsville, which apparently was never built. This goes along with another statement in Doctrine and Covenants 125:3:
Let them build up a city unto my name upon the land opposite the city of Nauvoo, and let the name of the Zarahemla be named upon it.
Special notice should be paid to this statement, because the Lord Himself wanted the satins to give the name of Zarahemla to a site across the Mississippi River from Nauvoo in Lee County, Iowa. He wanted them to build a city by that name there. So, not only was the ancient site of Manti in Missouri, but here we see that the Lord associates the name of Zarahemla with eastern Iowa. This is obvious because the Lord Himself recognized that as the place name for the area.
According to the internal geography of the Book of Mormon, the city of Zarahemla was on the west side of the Sidon River, Northward from Manti. That description exactly fits the site of Zarahemla, Iowa. It clearly follows the same pattern as the Missouri Manti. Not only was it the ancient site that was by that name, but a city was to be built by the saints in the same area as the original. This was no mistake.
It is very interesting as well that the footnotes 3a for D&C 125:3 in the 1979 edition of the scriptures, has this: “Omni 1:14 (14, 18); Alma 2:26.” It is interesting that the compilers of the footnotes pointed out those scriptures in reference to Zarahemla, Iowa. Omni 1 verses 14 and 18 tell us where the name Zarahemla came from. Alma 2:26 states, “And it came to pass that the people of Nephi took their tents and departed out of the valley of Gideon towards their city, which was the city of Zarahemla.” Then verse 27 goes on saying, “And behold, as they were crossing the river Sidon, the Lamanites and the Amlicites . . .came upon them to destroy them.” The following can be deduced from this evidence. The Book of Mormon took place in the United States of America anciently. The Hill Cumorah is in the Palmyra, New York area. The city of Zarahemla was in the area of eastern Iowa. And a little bit southwest of the present day site of Huntsville, Missouri, was the ancient site of the city of Manti which Joseph identified. We don’t accept them as evidence for geography without testing them with the requirements of the text of the Book of Mormon of course.
- Lundwall, N.B., Inspired Prophetic Warnings to all Inhabitants of the Earth, N.B. Lundwall, publisher, 1940, p. 52
- Cheesman, Paul R., 1978, The World of the Book of Mormon, Horizon Publishers, Bountiful, Utah, p. 24
- Journal of Discourses vol. 19:36-39
- Dan Vogel, Early Mormon Documents, Volume 3, Signature Books, SLC, UT, 2000, pp. 379-380, fn. 5. Spelling, punctuation and capitalization adjusted
- Dan Vogel, Early Mormon Documents, Volume 3, Signature Books, SLC, UT, 2000, pp. 379-380, fn. 5. Spelling, punctuation and capitalization adjusted.
- Dan Vogel, Early Mormon Documents, Volume 3, Signature Books, SLC, UT, 2000, pp. 407-408, fn. 5. Spelling, punctuation and capitalization adjusted.
- Millennial Star 28:417:19; Lundwall, N. B., 1941, Temples of the Most High, Salt Lake City, Utah: Bookcraft, p. 232
- Reminiscences of Joseph the Prophet, Salt Lake City, 1893, pp. 14-15
- Journal of Discourses, Vol 4, p. 105
- Times and Seasons, 3 [1 March 1842], pp. 707-708; History of the Church 4:537-538
- Smith, Lucy Mack, 1954, History of the Prophet Joseph Smith, Salt Lake City, UT: Bookcraft, p. 83
- Smith, Lucy Mack, 1954, 1901, History of the Prophet Joseph Smith, Salt Lake City, UT: Bookcraft, p. 100
- Revelation given to Joseph Smith, given west of Jackson County, Missouri, July 17, 1831, contained in a letter from W. W. Phelps to Brigham Young, dated August 12, 1861. It is in the Joseph Smith Collection, Church Historian’s Office
- Letter to Emma Smith, June 4, 1834, in Jesse, Dean C., 1984, The Personal Writings of Joseph Smith, Salt Lake City, Utah: Deseret Book Co., 1984, p. 324, spelling corrected
- Vogel, Dan, 1986, Indian Origins and the Book of Mormon, Salt Lake City, Utah: Signature Books, p. 32
- Vogel, Dan, 1986, Indian Origins and the Book of Mormon, Salt Lake City: Signature Books, pp. 32-33
- Faulring, Scott H. ed., 1989, An American Prophet’s Record: The Diaries and Journals of Joseph Smith, Salt Lake City, Utah: Signature Books, p. 184, spelling corrected
- Faulring, Scott H. ed., 1989, An American Prophet’s Record: The Diaries and Journals of Joseph Smith, Salt Lake City, Utah: Signature Books, p. 185, spelling corrected
- Jesse, Dean C., 1984, The Personal Writings of Joseph Smith, Salt Lake City, Utah: Deseret Book Co., 1984, p. 273
- Metcalfe, Brent Lee, 1993, “Apologetic and Critical Assumptions about Book of Mormon Historicity,” Dialogue: A Journal of Mormon Thought, 26 [Fall], Stanford, California: Dialogue Foundation
- James L. Bradley, Zion’s Camp 1834: Prelude to the Civil War, pages 111-115.
- Cheesman, Paul R., 1978, The World of the Book of Mormon, Horizon Publishers, Bountiful, Utah, p.25; Lundwall, N.B., 1941, Temples of the Most High, Salt Lake City, Utah: Bookcraft, p. 86.
- Sorenson, John, 1992, The Geography of Book of Mormon Events: A Source Book, Provo, UT: FARMS, p. 382; McGavin, E. Cecil, 1935, Mormonism and Masonry, Salt Lake City, Utah: Deseret News Press, p. 156
- Heinerman, Joseph, 1986, Temple Manifestations, Salt Lake City Utah: Joseph Lyon and Associates, Inc. dba Magazine Printing and Publishing, pp. 60-62
- Sorenson, John, 1992, The Geography of Book of Mormon Events: A Source Book, Provo, UT: FARMS; Whitney, Orson F., 1974, Life of Heber C. Kimball, Salt Lake City, Utah: Bookcraft, p. 477; Cheesman, Paul R., 1978, The World of the Book of Mormon, Horizon Publishers, Bountiful, Utah, p. 25; Heinerman, Joseph, 1986, Temple Manifestations, Salt Lake City, Utah: Joseph Lyon and Associates, Inc. dba Magazine Printing and Publishing, p. 101
- Crowther, Duane S., 1967, Life Everlasting, Bookcraft, SLC, UT, p. 165, as quoted from N. B. Lundwall, Temples of the Most High, p. 89.
- Autobiography of Parley P. Pratt, pp. 56-6; Documentary History of the Church Vol 1: Footnotes 183:2-18
- Smith, Joseph Fielding, 1954, Doctrines of Salvation, Vol 3, Salt Lake City, UT: Bookcraft, pp. 232-243
- Documentary History of the Church 3:10:144:1
- “Historical Record,” by LDS historian Andrew Jensen, Vol. 7, no. 7, p. 601, published in Salt Lake City, UT in July 1888
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