In search of the Lost Lands of the Book of Mormon

Ever since the Book of Mormon first came off the press, the Saints have been wondering just where on earth the saga played out in the Book of Mormon took place. All they knew for sure was that Book of Mormon placed it someplace in a land the Lord called a land of promise, a land choice above all others, a land all Book of Mormon geographers place in America-the place of the future site of the New Jerusalem. It was initially thought the entire Western  Hemisphere should be included, with North America being the land northward, and South America being the land southward, with the narrow Isthmus between thought to be the narrow neck of land spoken of in the scriptures. But then things changed and the setting began to be pared down, for it became all to obvious that Book of Mormon geography did not entail such a large area.

It is not enough to find a narrow neck of land somewhere, or the waters of Mormon or the  Sidon- all the geographical descriptions noted in the Book of Mormon have to fit together, not just a few, and not scattered over hundreds of miles in extent.   Moreover the time line of the Book of Mormon must correspond with the archeological time  line of any given area, and its ancient occupants should carry genetic markers with ties to ancient Israel.

The following video shows how I  came to the conclusion that the region around New York’s Hill Cumorah   is the only viable setting and most promising candidate to be the long, lost lands of the Book of Mormon.

I have prepared several videos which give a visual view of just how perfectly the western New York setting fits the geographical setting laid out in the scriptures, for pictures and videos sometime make a subject more palatable.  First and foremost is the need to identify  the promised land as America , the subject of the first video on our video page. From there one can branch off into various subjects relevant to the issue of  Book of Mormon geography and why I believe the long, lost lands of the Book of Mormon have finally been found in the regions around Cumorah, the only known landmark we have of that ancient time in history.

Little did the Saints of Joseph Smith’s day know that the saga of the Book of Mormon was played out right in their own back yards-the very same lands of our Latter-day Restoration.

 

The Jaredite’s Voyage to America

For the first time the story of the story of the Jaredites journey to the new world can finally be told, and is included in the book The Lost Sheep of Ancient America. In studying the history of prehistoric America, it becomes increasingly evident that America’s pre-history is linked to that of the old world. Although information on the ancient post-flood world is minimal, it is amazing how much has been gleaned from local legends and the documents written by early Bronze Age historians who helped identify many of the families who descended from Shem, Ham, and Japheth, with the first to arrive in America after the flood of Noah’s day being the Jaredites, the first of Shem’s line to carry the patriarchal priesthood from the old to the new world.  Those who suggest the Jaredites descended from Ham could not be more wrong, for all the evidence points to their being direct descendants of Shem, he who carried the Patriarchal line on through the flood to the families of Abraham and hence to the House of Israel.

The joy the Jaredites must have felt when they finally arrived on the shores of the promised land can only be imagined, for the entire northeastern United States was a land of plenty when the Jaredites  arrived. This was truly a land choice above all others, a land the Jaredites would call home for the next millennium and a half.

Video

America’s Ancient Horses & Elephants

Mastodon

The study of the ancient American horse and elephant points unavoidably to the North American setting for the Book of Mormon and adds clarity and strong supportive evidence that the Book of Mormon is true, contrary to the attacks of anti-Mormons who say the absence of the horse and elephant in ancient America discounts the Book Mormon’s divine authenticity.

It seems strange that so much controversy still exists over the existence of the horse and elephant in North Americas, for as far back as 1904, news to the contrary was published in Century Magazine. An elaborate article entitled, “The Evolution of the Horse in America, (a study of the Fossil Wonders of the West), written by Henry Fairfied Osborn, Professor of Zoology, Columbia University, and Curator of the American Museum of Natural History, who made it clear that both the elephant and horse existed in ancient North America.

The pre-glacial or earliest Pleistocene times in America, as in Europe, were of temperate climate. . . The country was covered from north to south with three noble species of elephants, namely, the Northern Mammoth, the Columbian Mammoth, and the Imperial Mammoth, or elephant of Texas; . . . The great number of our preglacial horses speak for favorable conditions, and constitute an additional proof of the American origin theory. (B. H. Roberts, New Witness for God, vol. III, pp. 537-8)

The bones of the Mammoth and Mastodon have been found in several bogs and other sites in New York, as were the bones of the giant sloth, the horse, the giant beaver, peccary, musk-ox, caribou moose, deer, buffalo and others.

Niagara’s Cemetery of Giants

New York’s Niagara Falls

There were giants in the lands around Cumorah during the Jaredite era, not just in animal form like the local elephants and mammoths that grazed in western New York, but men as well. A number of huge skeletons have been excavated in New York, Ohio, Tennessee, Illinois, Virginia, west Virginia, Indiana, Wisconsin, Missouri, and Minnesota, most of them measured seven and eight feet in height, although some reached upwards of nine feet, with a few even taller. It is in these very regions we find archaeological evidence of the residence of the ancient Jaredite civilization who the scriptures describe a “large and mighty Men.”

In Cayuga township along the Grand River, not far from Niagara Falls, two hundred skeletons of men of gigantic proportions were discovered piled one atop the other not more than five or six feet beneath the earth with a string of pearls around the neck of each one. From the Daily Telegraph (Toronto), August 23, 1871, we read:

“These skeletons are those of men of gigantic stature, some of them measuring nine feet, very few of them being less than seven, . . .and one of the skulls being examined completely covered the head of an ordinary person. These skeletons are supposed to belong to those of a race of people anterior to the Indians.”  (Benott Crevier-Ancient American $41. p.9)

The bones of a huge race of men were also found in a cave in northern New York. The giants were found in a cave by workmen, about one-hundred-fifty in number, which were eventually taken out and displayed for the entire town of Northeast. A cave nearby was said to have contained at least as many more. Such a newsworthy discovery was written up in the Daily Victoria Standard, B.C., Canada, July 7, 1885.

Evidence that the Jaredite lived in New York—the lands of the Book of Mormon, is overwhelming, with the archeological record conforming perfectly with the saga of the Jaredites long sojourn in the promised land. Many more pieces of the puzzle can be found in the book The Lost Sheep of Ancient America.

The Book of Mormon’s Golden Age of Mining

Nephi fashioning the golden plates

The scriptures make it clear that the Jaredites were heavily involved in the exploitation of precious metals, such as copper, gold, silver and lead, all of which can be found in abundance around the Great Lakes. Iron ore was also found throughout the area, including New York, the proposed lands of the Book of Mormon (See The Lost Lands of the Book of Mormon, CFI). In fact, even in more modern times iron ore has been one of New York and Michigan’s most lucrative export items.

And they did work in all manner of ore, and they did make gold, and silver, and iron, and brass, and all manner of metals; and they did dig it out of the earth; wherefore they did cast up mighty heaps of earth to get ore, of gold, and of silver, and of iron, and of copper. And they did work all manner of fine work (Ether 10:23).

Metal relics were found all across New York during the early years of European colonization, some no doubt of Jaredite origins, others of Nephite. Those made of iron disintegrated upon being excavated, leaving nothing but traces of rust behind. But some found in the mounds, which date to the Nephite era, survived a little better, with one mound investigated by a Mr. Atwater containing not only instruments made of stone, but “very well manufactured swords and knives of iron, and possibly steel.”  Even an understanding of how to make brass was known by the ancients. In Josiah Priest’s American Antiquities we learn that a Mr. Halsted plowed up seven or eight hundred pounds of brass of both husbandry and war on his farm on Salmon Creek in Scipio, Cayuga County, New York.

Gold, Copper & Silver

Gold was also sought out by the ancients. While gold can be found around Lake Superior, and all across the state of Michigan, the Hemlo Gold mine of western Ontario just to the north of New York is one of the most important gold producers in North America today. As a mineral source today it contains 22 million ounces of gold. Other lucrative gold mines can be found in neighboring Quebec. Silver can also be found in Ontario, and also in Michigan. Michigan’s native silver was a byproduct of most copper mines which were often rich in silver. The mine in Silver Islet, three-quarters of a mile offshore in Lake Superior, was the world’s richest silver mine between 1879-1884. Tales of lost silver bonanzas still circulate in the area. It is no wonder traders from far and wide braved the great Atlantic to take advantage of such a rich source of precious metals for their on-going building projects.

The following  Video explains it all.

 

The Limited New York Setting

New York’s Hill Cumorah

What is most impressive about the western New York landscape and its similarities to Nephite territory is its size- a limited territory which stretched between Lake Erie on the west, the Genesee River on the east, Lake Ontario on the North, and Pennsylvania on the north. The scriptures themselves validate the fact that the land southward was not very big. Although the horse and chariot were mentioned in the text, the advancing of an army or the gathering of a people was usually accomplished on foot. Now this is still another indication that the overall territory was rather limited, for the scriptures clearly indicate that the people of that day managed to travel between lands and cities on a regular basis, whether they were helping to defend one another’s territory, helping to build or rebuild cities, shipping supplies back and forth, or simply gathering for the great conferences held by the rulers of their lands.

The constant interaction between cities and lands clearly indicates that most Book of Mormon towns and cities were closely linked to one another with only relatively short distances between.. Therefore, we should not be surprised when we read that it only took three days to travel from Melek to Ammonihah or a day and a half to traverse the distance across Bountiful. Armies tramped all over the territory and then home again. They captured cities and then lost them again on a regular basis, for they were in very close proximity to one another. The people in neighboring cities argued over borders and lands and many gathered themselves together for protection from warring factions. They moved across the land from Zarahemla to the eastern borders and then on to Bountiful without concern.

Obviously the Nephites and Lamanites spread out into neighboring territory over their millennial-long stay in the  land, but it would have been absolutely impossible for those prophets and scribes who lived and died in the limited regions of Zarahemla to record the happenings of the various residential cluster found throughout the entire northeast on a regular basis. In fact it may just be that the records of Zarahemla were chosen out of all the others to come forth in our day, because the area was not only isolated from other regions by vast forests and waterways, but compact enough to allow the various scribes to present a fairly complete picture of the life and times of those who occupied that region.

The records they kept were not only vital to those of their day, but ours as well. Thus, the Lord chose a limited region; a region where the comings and goings of the prophets could be easily tracked, where the wars and contentions of the various factions within the land could be monitored and recorded, and where the movement of the people as lands and cities were taken by the enemy, and then retaken with the aid of the Almighty, could be easily documented. Consequently, only the activities of those who lived in the limited territory known as the land southward, with only a mere mention of those who migrated into the land northward, were abridged on the golden plates by Moroni for those of our day.

Sadly, there are those who claim that New York is far too small to be Book of Mormon territory, supposing that hundreds of miles separated the various lands mentioned in the Book of Mormon and took in the entire eastern third of America.  The mere fact that   one of New York’s southern counties is bigger than some European countries should dispel that notion however, for from north to south  western New York is of ample size to be home to the lineal descendants of Lehi throughout the generations, regardless of the fact that some move out into outlying areas from the Atlantic  to the Rocky Mountains.

Watch the following video and judge for yourself.

 

The Lost Lands of the Book of Mormon

There have been numerous attempts to locate the lands of the Book of Mormon over the years, but as of yet, there has been no direct revelation on the matter. As each new theory arises, we gain fresh hope of acquiring additional insights into the location of the lost lands of the Book of Mormon, but all too often we are disappointed.

Perhaps the time has come to concentrate more heavily on those lands surrounding the only known landmark we have of that ancient time in history – the Hill Cumorah in New York State. To be successful in such a pursuit, however, we must first travel back in time to an era shortly after the Universal Flood when vast primeval forests and ancient waters filled the land from one end to the other. Only by doing so will we come to recognize the uncanny similarities between the New York setting and those described in the Book of Mormon, and only by doing so will the lands of the Nephites begin to unfold.

Rather than look at one river, or one narrow neck, or at one sea or wilderness to locate the elusive lands of the Book of Mormon, we will finally be able to see how all the lands fit together, and how the various descriptions of lands and territories found within the pages of the Book of Mormon fit the terrain of western New York perfectly. Once the geography of the ancient setting becomes more familiar, the life and death struggles of the Nephites will take on new meaning, and the stories surrounding those  the Lord led to the promised land of America will finally come to life.

While the Nephites and Mulekites obviously spread out over a great expanse of territory over their near millennial-long sojourn in the land, the Book of Mormon is the history of those who lived in their New York heartland in the lands of Nephi, Zarahemla, and Bountiful, with offshoots settled in what they called the land of many waters which we can take to be the Finger Lakes region bordering the southern shores of Lake Ontario. It is in the land of many waters that we find the Hill Cumorah, the site of the terrible exterminating battle that totally wiped the Nephites from off the face of the earth.

In his research of the region for the Smithsonian Institute, E. G. Squire found hundreds of such fortified sites extending from the counties of St. Lawrence on the north, to Chautauqua on the south, and embracing the counties of Jefferson, Oswego, Onondaga, Oneida, Cayuga, Seneca, Ontario, Wayne, Monroe, Livingston, Orleans, Niagara, Erie, and Genesee, Cattaraugus, and Allegheny. More than 1,000 sites were found in Ontario, Livingston, Genesee and Monroe Counties alone, with nearly 500 sites in Monroe County, and over a 100 fortified hilltops and strongholds in Genesee County—the very territory now suggested to be the actual lands laid out in the Book of Mormon.

Counties in western and central New York where Nephite type forts have been found

While the heartland of Book of Mormon territory remained in New York, all the available evidence suggests that various groups migrated out in all directions until they  filled up the entire region around the Great Lakes eastward to the Atlantic. Some even moved west clear to the Rocky Mountains and the northwest Coast of America  But, their religious and cultural center remained in western New York within a radius of about100 miles from the Hill Cumorah.

Every single geographical description outlined in the Book of Mormon can be laid out in the New York setting perfectly, which only strengthens the premise that the long lost lands of the Book of Mormon were right there near Cumorah.

Watch the  video-The Lost Lands of the Book of Mormon and see for yourself how well it all fits together.

Nephite Ties to the Hopewell Mound Builders

While the cultures to the south of the Ohio River had much to do with the rise of the Ohio Hopewell sequence, considerable research has led archaeologists to believe that the greatest internal expansion of the Adena culture in Ohio came from a long-headed people living to the north of the Adena-held Ohio Valley or from other related people scattered from New York to Illinois, a people who we can equate with the merged populations of the Nephites and Mulekites.

Ties between the people in Illinois and those in New York have never been doubted. In fact, the archaeologist Don Dragoo claimed the similarities shared by the people in Illinois and those in New York were neither accidental nor the result of trade, but the result of a common physical and cultural heritage. He maintains that the pottery types shared by these widely separated cultures were so strikingly similar that he was convinced that a direct genetic relationship had to have existed. Even the basic themes noted in the burial customs among several different groups scattered from New York to Illinois were remarkably similar.

Yet the elite among the Hopewell appear to have come from foreign origins, those who crossed from northern Europe and settled along New England and inland along the broad  valleys of the Cumberland Mountains in Tennessee and Kentucky, just to the south of the Ohio River.  It was these foreign tribes who instigated the mound culture of the Ohio Hopewell in 100 B.C. and used the local populations as cheap labor to build them.

Sadly, many of the Nephites and Mulekites began to embrace the pagan ways of the Ohio Hopewell populations.  Some even moved into their territory to live its elitist society more fully.  Thus, one has to wonder what the draw was which led to so many to move to Ohio? Watch the following Video about the Hopewell  and learn just what that draw was, and how it relates to the story of the Book of Mormon.   This is one video you won’t want to miss.

You can read more about this fascinating epoch in American history in The Lost Sheep of Ancient America  which explores the arrival of various tribes of Israel into Ancient America not just the Nephites and Mulekites, learn  how their interaction with the Nephites may have helped lead to their destruction.

DNA & The Book of Mormon

By depending solely on what little DNA evidence could be gleaned from the remains of America’s prehistoric residents, early theories over the past century had all Native American DNA falling within four haplogroups A, B, C, and D. Three of the four haplogroups, A, C and D are found primarily in Asia, with the B haplogroup found chiefly in southeast Asia. With no new evidence to suggest otherwise, the theory that America was peopled primarily from migrating tribes from Asia was perpetuated throughout the generations until just recently when a rare genetic DNA link called haplogroup X with ties going back to the Middle east, and thus also to Israel, was discovered among the Native Americans of northeastern North America.

Although several tribes across the country are known to carry the X haplogroup, it is found more frequently in the regions around the Great Lakes than elsewhere in North America. This area is dominated by the Algonquin speaking people and the Iroquois who extended from the western end of the Great Lakes to Maine.

Yet, interestingly, by studying the position of the X haplogroup found among Native Americans on the genetic tree, it was discovered that an early split took place at the very beginning of the expansion and spread from the Near East. It seems that one complete Native American X sequence was found among the southwestern Navajo, and the other among the tribes in Ontario who developed into the Ojibwa, the two believed to have diverged from a common point of origin after their common ancestor was already settled in America, with  their origins thought by many to be linked to the New York Iroquois, who all the evidence suggests are the literal descendants of the family of Lehi.

Further south when some of the founding tribes in southwestern New York (Lamanites) made their way along the Allegheny River into Ohio where they became known as the Cherokee, an offshoot branch of the Iroquois. While a modern Cherokee carries a mixed genetic history today after having merged with the southeastern tribes, the rare, pure-blooded Cherokee carries basically the X haplogroup through the mother’s line.

Not surprisingly, James Adair, who came to live in America before the colonies were formed and spent 33 years among the Cherokee, documenting their customs, civil policies, history, language, religion, priests, military customs,  marriage and funeral rites and their temperaments and manners, found them all to have close affinities with the customs and traits of the Hebrews. In fact, the cultural evidence of a Hebrew presence in the native North American tribes is so overwhelming that notwithstanding many of the western tribes have roots with ties to Asia, it can no longer be doubted that many Native Americans have ties which link them to the Near East as well-just as the Book of Mormon claims.

 

The Lamanites After Cumorah

William Penn Greeting the Indians when he arrived

The story of the Lamanites does not end with the battle of Cumorah, for they continued to war amongst themselves for power and dominion for centuries, with no end of their wars in sight. Although there was great suffering on both sides, it was the white man who finally brought an end to their wilder ways and began the process of civilizing them again. Little did the Gentiles know that at one time the Indians had been as fair and delightsome as they were.

Sadly, as more and more whites arrived in America, things were set in motion to deprive the Indians of their land, thinking them to be a threat to the more civilized settlers in the land. Treaties were made with the Indians as early as 1817, with the Cherokee agreeing to move to the west of the Mississippi in eastern Kansas bordering Missouri, which was the western fringe of the newly formed United States where the Cherokee would now be considered the country’s western tribes of Indians. Unfortunately, not all the tribes followed their lead. Thus, in 1830 the Indian Removal Act was authorized by President Andrew Jackson which was intended to force the last resistors to migrate west. During the fall and winter of 1838 and 39 the last of the Cherokee were forcibly moved west by the United States government. Approximately 4,000 Cherokee died on this forced march, which became known as the “Trail of Tears.”

Although Lehi’s and Mulek’s children have long since melted into the mainstream of America, the time will come when they will know who their ancient fathers were, with both one day standing proudly in the shade of that Zion to come and proclaiming, “We, too, are Israel.”