Joseph Smith’s Geography Lesson – 1842

Well, it’s been a long, long while since my last posting.  I have been very busy and have put this research aside for a while. I have read a few theories on Book of Mormon geographies and I found that most of them will not recognize Joseph Smith’s comments on where the Nephite lands are. The theories range from exclusively in South America, in Central America or in North America, particularly in New York and the Great Lakes area. While I believe that these theories maybe correct and I am not here to criticize anyone but, for the most part, they seem to leave Joseph Smith out.

Here is an article published in July 1842 in The Times and Seasons, courteous of this fairmormon page.  I have the complete Times and Seasons and I found the rest of the article that the fairmormon excerpted from.

AMERICAN ANTIQUITIES.

Some have supposed that all the great works of the west, of which we have been treating, belong to our present race of Indians; but from continued wars with each other, have driven themselves from agricultural pursuits, and thinned away their numbers, to that degree, that the wild animals and fishes of the rivers, and wild fruit of the forests, were found sufficient to give them abundant support: on which account, they were reduced to savagism.

But this is answered by the Antiquarian Society, as follows: “Have our present race of Indians ever buried their dead in mounds by thousands? Were they acquainted with the uses of silver or copper? These metals curiously wrought have been found. Did the ancients of our Indians burn the bodies of distinguished chiefs, on funeral piles, and then raise a lofty tumulus over the urn containing their ashes? Did the Indians erect any thing like the “walled towns,” on Paint Creek? Did they ever dig such wells as are found at Marietta, Portsmouth, and above all, such as those in Paint Creek? Did they manufacture vessels from calcareous breccia equal to any now made in Italy?

To this we respond, they never have: no, not even their traditions afford a glimpse of the existence of such things, as forts, tumuli, roads, wells, mounds, walls enclosing between one and two hundred, and even five hundred acres of land; some of them of stone, and others of earth, twenty feet in thickness, and exceeding high, are works requiring too much labor for Indians ever to have performed.

An idol found in a tumulus near Nashville, Tennessee, and now in the Museum of Mr. Clifford, of Lexington, is made of clay, peculiar for its fineness. With this clay was mixed a small portion of gypsum or plaster of Paris. This Idol was made to represent a man, in a state of nudity or nakedness, whose arms had been cut off close to the body, and whose nose and chin have been mutilated, with a fillet and cake upon its head.

Some years since a clay vessel was discovered, about twenty feet below the surface, in alluvial earth, in digging a well near Nashville, Tennessee, and was found standing on a rock, from whence a spring of water issued. This vessel was taken to Peale’s Museum, at Philadelphia. It contains about one gallon; was circular in its shape, with a flat bottom, from which it rises in a somewhat globose form, terminating at the summit with the figure of a female head; the place where the water was introduced, or poured out, was on the one side of it, nearly at the top of the globose part.

Another idol was, a few years since, dug up in Natchez, on the Mississippi, on a piece of ground where, according to tradition, long before Europeans visited this country, stood an Indian temple.-This idol is of stone, and is nineteen inches in height, nine inches in width, and seven inches thich [thick] at the extremities.-On its breast, as represented on the plate of the idol, were five marks, which were evidently characters of some kind, resembling as supposed, the Persian; probably expressing, in the language of its authors, the name and suppssed [supposed] attributes of the senseless god of stone.

One of the arts known to the builders of Babel, was that of brick making; this art was also known to the people who built the works in the west. The knowledge of copper was known to the people of the plains of Shinar, for Noah must have communicated it, as he lived an hundred and fifty years among them after the flood; also, copper was known to the antediluvians. Copper was also known to the authors of the western monuments. Iron was known to the antediluvians; it was also known to the ancients of the west; however, it is evident that very little iron was among them, as very few instances of its discovery in their works have occurred; and for this very reason we draw a conclusion that they came to this country very soon after the dispersion, and brought with them such few articles of iron as have been found in their works in an oxydized [oxidized] state.

Copper ore is very abundant in many places of the west; and therefore, as they had a knowledge of it, when they first came here they knew how to work it, and form it into tools and ornaments. This is the reason why so many articles of this metal are found in their works; and even if they had a knowledge of iron ore, and knew how to work it, all articles made of it must have become oxydized [oxidized] as appears from what few specimens have been found, while those of copper are more imperishable. Gold ornaments are said to have been found in several tumuli. Silver very well plated on copper, has been found in several mounds, besides those at Circleville and Marietta. An ornament of copper was found in a stone mound near Chilicothe; it was a bracelet for the ancle [ankle] or wrist.

The ancients of Asia, immediately after the dispersion, were acquainted with ornaments made of the various metals; for in the family of Terah, who was the father of Abraham and Nahor, we find these ornaments in use for the beautifying of females. See the servant of Abraham, at the well of Bethuel [Bethel] in the country of “Ur of the Chaldeans,” or Mesopotamia, which is not very far from the place where Babel stood-putting a jewell [jewel] of gold upon the face or forehead of Rebecca, weighing half a shekel, and two bracelets for her wrists, or arms. Bracelets for the same use have been found in the west; all of which circumstances go to establish the acquaintance of those who made those ornaments of silver and copper found in the mounds of the west, equal with those of Ur in Chaldea. The families of Peleg, Reu, Serug, and Nahor, who were the immediate progenitors of Abraham, lived at an era but little after the flood; and yet we find them in the possession of ornaments of this kind; from which we conclude a knowledge both of the metals, and how to make ornaments, as above described, was brought by Noah and his family from beyond the flood.

On the shores of the Mississippi, some miles below Lake Pepin, on a fine plain, exists an artificial elevation of about four feet high, extending a full mile, in somewhat of a circular form. It is sufficiently capacious to have covered 5000 men. Every angle of the breast work is yet traceable, though much defaced by time. Here, it is likely, conflicting realms as great as those of the ancient Greeks and Persians, decided the fate of ambitious Monarchs, of the Chinese, Mongol descent.

Weapons of brass have been found in many parts of America, as in the Canadas, Florida, &c., with curiously sculptured stones, all of which go to prove that this country was once peopled with civilized, industrious nations,-now traversed the greater part by savage hunters.-Priests American Antiquities.

The Book of Mormon speaks of ores, swords, cities, armies, &c., and we extract the following:–

And it came to pass that we did find upon the land of promise, as we journeyed in the wilderness, that there were beasts in the forests of every kind, both the cow and the ox, and the ass, and the horse, and the goat, and the wild goat, and all manner of wild animals, which were for the use of men. And we did find all manner of ore, both of gold, and of silver, and of copper.

And it came to pass that the Lord commanded me, wherefore I did make plates of ore, that I might engraven npon [upon] them the record of my people. * * *

And it came to pass that we began to prosper exceedingly, and to multiply in the land. And I, Nephi, did take the sword of Laban, and after the manner of it did make many swords, lest by any means the people who were now called Lamanites, should come upon us and destroy us: for I knew their hatred towards me and my children, and those who were called my people. And I did teach my people to build buildings; and to work in all manner of wood, and of iron, and of copper, and of brass, and of steel, and of gold, and of silver, and of precious ores, which were in abundance. And I, Nephi, did build a temple; and I did construct it after the manner of the temple of Solomon, save it were not built of so many precious things: for they were not to be found upon the land; wherefore it could not be built like unto Solomon’s temple. But the manner of the construction was like unto the temple of Solomon; and the workmanship thereof was exceeding fine.

In regard to there being great wars, the following will shew [show]:-

And it came to pass when Coriantumr had recovered of his wounds, he began to remember the words which Ether had spoken unto him…he saw that there had been slain by the sword already nearly two millions of his people, and he began to sorrow in his heart; yea, there had been slain two millions of mighty men, and also their wives and their children. He began to repent of the evil which he had done; he began to remember the words which had been spoken by the mouth of all the prophets, and he saw them that they were fulfilled, thus far, every whit; and his soul mourned, and refused to be comforted. . . . . .

And it came to pass that they did gather together all the people, upon all the face of the land, who had not been slain, save it was Ether. And it came to sass [pass] that Ether did behold all the doings of the people; and he beheld that the people who were for Coriantumr, were gathered together for the army of Coriantumr; and the people who were for Shiz, were gathered together to the army of Shiz; wherefore they were for the space of four years gathering together the people, that they might get all who were upon the face of the land, and that they might receive all the strength which it was profitable that they could receive. And it came to pass that when they were all gathering together, every one to the army which he would with their wives and their children; both men, women, and children being armed with weapons of war, having shields and breast plates, and head plates, and being clothed after the manner of war, they did march forth one against another, to battle; and they fought all that day, and conquered not. And it came to pass that when it was night they were weary, and retired to their camps; and after they had retired to their camps, they took up a howling and a lamentation for the loss of the slain of their people; and so great were their cries, their howlings and lamentations, that it did rend the air exceedingly.

If men, in their researches into the history of this country, in noticing the mounds, fortifications, statues, architecture, implements of war, of husbandry, and ornaments of silver, brass, &c.-were to examine the Book of Mormon, their conjectures would be removed, and their opinions altered; uncertainty and doubt would be changed into certainty and facts; and they would find that those things that they are anxiously prying into were matters of history, unfolded in that book. They would find their conjectures were more than realized-that a great and a mighty people had inhabited this continent-that the arts sciences and religion, had prevailed to a very great extent, and that there was as great and mighty cities on this continent as on the continent of Asia. Babylon, Ninevah, nor any of the ruins of the Levant could boast of more perfect sculpture, better architectural designs, and more imperishable ruins, than what are found on this continent. Stephens and Catherwood’s researches in Central America abundantly testify of this thing. The stupendous ruins, the elegant sculpture, and the magnificence of the ruins of Guatamala [Guatemala], and other cities, corroborate this statement, and show that a great and mighty people-men of great minds, clear intellect, bright genius, and comprehensive designs inhabited this continent. Their ruins speak of their greatness; the Book of Mormen [Mormon} unfolds their history.-ED.

I like how the author on the fairmormon page wrote this line  before and after the excerpt: NOTE: Page 862 of this issue of the Times and Seasons states: “The Times and Seasons, Is edited, printed and published about the first and fifteenth of every month, on the corner of Water and Bain Streets, Nauvoo, Hancock County, Illinois, by JOSEPH SMITH”   and  This statement was signed “ED,” which attributes it directly to Joseph Smith.

So there is no question who wrote this article, if you chose to accept it as a true statement made by Joseph Smith. Now, I don’t know whether he was being prophetic, inspired or his own thoughts but I do know this and I have stated this before, that Joseph Smith is the only one that has spoken directly with the Angel Moroni, the last Nephite of the Book of Mormon, once a year for several years. He may have been instructed not to write down anything that was taught to him including where the Book of Mormon lands are until later and only in small amounts. He was the only one that was the most familiar with the Book of Mormon peoples. Now, if Joseph Smith was trusted enough to be given the keys of the Priesthood and given the authority to restart the Church of Christ in this dispensation why wouldn’t he be told about the Nephite’s history and lands?

What I have done in my theory was to piece together all of his statements, the Book of Mormon migrations, archeology, Native American traditions and statements made by early American settlers and explorers. It produced a pattern that is not hard to miss. I just connected the dots. And now, I have a better understanding of the Book of Mormon and where the events took place. All of this is only possible if you chose to believe in what Joseph Smith has taught, both in spiritual and temporal matters, and are willing to accept it as the truth and stand by it, no matter what anyone says.

I will work harder in the future to post more of my thoughts on ancient history and to post any articles I come across on the internet. Thank you for taking the time to visit this blog and it is my hope that you will take the time and study what I have published and share my thoughts with your family and friends.

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7 thoughts on “Joseph Smith’s Geography Lesson – 1842

  1. BOMC

    My comments follow your interest:

    “Joseph Smith is the only one that has spoken directly with the Angel Moroni”

    No, David Whitmer and Oliver Cowdery spoke with him on their way from Harmony toward the Whitmer home. Essentially Moroni greeted while walking saying he was on his way “to Cumorah.” A word David never heard before.

    David Whitmer likewise stated there was a depository of records in another hill/cave there in Palmyra/Cumorah.

    “He may have been instructed not to write down anything that was taught to him including where the Book of Mormon lands are until later and only in small amounts.”

    He said what the angel told him: “Its a history about the prior inhabitants of this country” meaning, where he was standing.

    Joseph never investigated the geography of the Book of Mormon to learn how big/small “core” BoM lands were. Nor did he investigate how that land may have looked 2000 years ago.

    “Now, if Joseph Smith was trusted enough to be given the keys of the Priesthood and given the authority to restart the Church of Christ in this dispensation why wouldn’t he be told about the Nephite’s history and lands?”

    David Whitmer said Joseph was never told to start a church, but was prone to deception and disobedience, which God wanted so no man would look to him more than God or the Book of Mormon.

    You should know, aside from the obvious offenses against God (giving the first 116 pages to Harris, an early affair, etc.), Joseph ensured his place financially with all he did, by publishing (church newspapers/church revelations/etc.), United Order, etc.

    Worst of all, he changed revelations considerably, adding and removing items that would contradict the Book of Mormon and New Testament (all kids must be baptized “for the remission of sins,” baptism for church membership (his first baptism wasn’t, etc.).

    “All of this is only possible if you chose to believe in what Joseph Smith has taught, both in spiritual and temporal matters, and are willing to accept it as the truth and stand by it, no matter what anyone says.”

    If you love him more than the Word of God (Bible/Book of Mormon), Jesus Christ, or God, then you’re in deep water. May I suggest you learn its theology (without Mormon filters) before its geography – no offense – but it’s important if it truly contains the “fullness of the everlasting gospel” as Moroni, David, and the Book itself says.

    Reply
  2. uft36 Post author

    Thank you, for your comment. No, I don’t put Joseph Smith above Christ, God, or the Bible. I don’t worship him. I don’t want to have a debate on whether this is the true Church of Christ here on earth or whether Joseph Smith was a true prophet. The main purpose of this blog is to present my ideas on ancient American history and Joseph Smith made some comments that I believe are clues to understanding where the Book of Mormon events took place. If you are an active LDS member and are interested in these things then I hope you will consider what I wrote and learn from them. My stand in early Church history is that I don’t know for sure why Joseph Smith and other members did the things they did and God would have taken care of it. If you dig deep enough in any of the established churches in the world you will find garbage and things you don’t like. Does this mean that what they teach is any less than acceptable and could be applied in your life? What is true knowledge is relative to the person and what one is willing to accept and believe.

    Reply
    1. BOMC

      Fair enough.

      If God is our guide, we must rely on His guidance, by His words, and through prayer.

      In cases of human error, you’re right, it’s everywhere, always has been (Adam/Eve), and always will be.

      Several have compiled Joseph’s statements regarding the geography, and try to use them, but they don’t jive. Partly why so many have ignored them.

      Because Joseph abandoned the Book of Mormon immediately, it’s safe to say he was ignorant of many things in it, their lands in particular.

      The geography has little relevance to anyone’s salvation unless you believe treason could jeopardize it.

      Reply
  3. uft36 Post author

    I am not sure if you went through my postings but I started fresh with the Book of Mormon and went through it trying to find any patterns. I know it is not required for salvation but I am interested in ancient American history and other world histories and I wanted to find a possible solution to the debate that was going on. How did the Book of Mormon plates end up in upstate New York? As I went through the Book of Mormon trying to find clues and patterns the only thing I found was the migrations north. The Book of Mormon is divided up into 15 books and there is one migration every 3 books. I started with this and worked up a possible theory. I started searching the internet for anything that might support my ideas. The one thing that keeps coming back to me when I read about different theories is the story of the last Jaredite king that was discovered by the Mulekites. Just how old was he when they found him? Since he was still alive when the Mulekites found him that must mean that he was alive when Lehi’s family arrived in the New World and that means to me that the Jaredite war either was just over or was still going on. And if I read the book of Ether right that means a whole nation was in a war. I may be wrong in this but wasn’t the Jaredite nation from the east coast to the west coast? If Lehi’s family ended up in upstate New York would they have been right in the middle of a very bloody war or in a land totally devastated by a long war? The other theories I had too many questions as well. This is basically how I worked out my theory. That the Book of Mormon was written in different areas of the New World and as the Nephites were pushed north they brought their records with them and continued to write their history. I started with the Isthmus of Darian not because of Joseph Smith but because of a Native American tradition I found while researching. Everything fits very well with my theory.

    Reply
    1. BOMC

      I was aware of your work. It is true, Nephi went north, but the Mulekites came south, then later both went into the Land Northward.

      The Jaredites stayed in the Land Northward and covered THAT land. Both battles waged from the west to the east.

      It could be postulated that the Mulekites had more than one group, stop in more than one place. There is much to learn logistically speaking with the Mulekites.

      Anyhow, Lehi sailed past the Land Northward, they did not stop, land, or migrate through. It is interesting timing no doubt on all counts, by the wisdom of God in particular for the Mulekites to meet the last Jaredite! There is room for “fill in the blank” scenarios where that occurred and how.

      Unfortunately, some have gone bazerk on it, creating all sorts of fiction to satisfy the imagination of their minds. Same with what Mormon did with that extra time, some have pontificated beyond reason on it.

      All models are flawed in significant ways, starting with hemispheric models, to models outside of the United States. By taking that which is not questioned – Cumorah, and trace backwards, it’s very easy to find the “seas” and the lands; River Sidon, etc.

      See this page (and sub pages) for facts on Cumorah others ignore:

      http://bookofmormongeography.org/book-of-mormon-geography-cumorah

      Reply
  4. uft36 Post author

    I’m sorry but I just can’t get past the idea that 1000 years of Nephite history is contained in such a small area, even if it includes New England. And I can’t get past the idea that 2 nations, Zarahemla and the Nephites, that were separated by a narrow strip of wilderness could not have known each other for about 400 years. The only descriptions of Zarahemla is found in Alma. There are no descriptions of the Land of Bountiful were Lehi landed, at least not in such a great detail as in Alma. I really don’t care about DNA and population studies. I have come to believe that Lehi’s mission was to preserve his lineage and to bring the Gospel to the New World. Not to repopulate it like Adam and Eve. There are many traditions of groups of people coming from different parts of the world that settled in various areas of the New World. I believe it was God’s mission to have Lehi introduce God’s Word to these people and to prepare them for the coming of Christ. Since the more northern parts were in constant war and strife and Central America was steeped in pagan traditions Lehi needed a safe place to land and what better place than just south of Isthmus of Darian? It was warm and tropical and unless I find out otherwise very peaceful. Central America was reserved for Mulek and his people who were probably more able to handle the local cultures than Lehi’s family. This may seem like all a wild fantasy or imagination but if God wanted the Gospel of Jesus Christ to be known to all parts of the world and to prepare the people for the coming of Christ He would have to send out righteous men to prepare the people. So, why not have Lehi and his family travel through the Pacific, visiting the islands and land in South America and start there and then move north when the time is right to establish the Church in Central America. It is centrally located and prophets could send missionaries north and south to spread the Church throughout the New World. I don’t doubt all the research that has gone into the various locations that the Book of Mormon events took place. It is just that we need to tie them all together and I believe Lehi’s mission is the link that would do this.

    Reply
    1. BOMC

      1. Those lands were given to Lehi and Jared because they were faithful.

      2. Their lands were hidden. Had God designed all this merely to spread the Good News, He would have placed them in lands that were NOT.

      Your understanding of how their lands were orientated is flawed. The Land of Nephi and the Land of Zarahemla were not separated by a single strip of wilderness. Read the text without the punctuation.

      Due to the many accounts of people becoming lost or untraceable, it’s clear the lay of the land was not jungle, but a wilderness forest, with no discernible land features (extremely tall mountains for example) to keep ones bearing by.

      Rarely did people venture into the unknown. Hagoth was the exception, not the rule. Sooner or later one must abandon the myth that Book of Mormon peoples populated all of the Americas, that Hagoth people populated the islands, that Gaddianton Robbers were in Utah, or that Moroni dedicated the St. George and Manti temple sites.

      Of course Book of Mormon legends would emerge, where are those if not what I just mentioned?

      You must identify a piece of land surrounded by four bodies of water (lakes or seas) of which none are the Great Deep they crossed. And you must show that the Mulekites sailed via the Sea North and landed on the north side of the Land Northward.

      Reply

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