The book of Mormon is more than a historical record of the Ancient Nephite civilization, it is the record of the Savior’s visit to His new world flock after His death and resurrection. Thus the land He walked on in the new world is just as sacred as those He walked in the old world. It is no wonder so many keep searching for it. Gratefully, enough modern research has emerged in the past century to finally conclude that the ancient lands of the Book of Mormon existed in the regions around New York’s Hill Cumorah between Lake Ontario and Lake Erie. While various groups of the Nephites continued to migrate out in various directions until they filled lands from New England to Lake Superior, their spiritual heartland remained in New York throughout their long sojourn in the land. Those trying to reconcile this area with the geographical descriptions provided in the Book of Mormon will find various clues interspersed throughout the text. For example, both the Nephites and Jaredites described the territory around the Hill Ramah/Cumorah as being a land of many waters; a description which fits exactly the lands around the Hill Cumorah, a region simply filled with water, including literally thousands of streams, creeks, ponds, and eleven beautiful Finger Lakes which extend from north to south across the land ranging in length from three miles to forty. Even the topographical features of western New York fit the lands described in the Book of Mormon, each having highlands to the south and flat lands to the north, a land of lush forests and fertile fields; a land highly coveted by the Lamanites.
A Limited Territory
Unfortunately, our view of Book of Mormon territory has often been too grand, thinking it must surely have been greater than what is implied in the text. But, without the modern means of transportation and communication we take so for granted today, documenting the history of an enormous area would have been next to impossible for Book of Mormon scribes, especially in areas where prophets were not welcomed. Moreover, the Book of Mormon is the lineal history of the family of Lehi whose generations remained in their heartland. Thus, only the history of the family of Lehi still living in the area was recorded on the gold plates for those of our day. Those in outlying regions were commanded to keep their own records, records still lost to history. While the region of western New York may seem small to some, it takes in an entire third of the state of New York where millions live today. In fact the city of Buffalo, just off the coast of Lake Eire, is the second largest city in New York, second only to New York City. Thus, how can we doubt that the area was sufficiently large for the local populations noted in the Book of Mormon? We might remember that the biblical lands of the Old World were similarly small yet was home to Israel for thousands of years.
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In light of all the evidence, the Near Cumorah Setting for the Book of Mormon is the most promising of all the geographies yet presented. Visit our Video Gallery and other pages on this website and see how DNA leads in that direction; see how a reformed form of Egyptian Hieroglyphics found among the Northeastern Indian tribes leads in that direction. Various other videos answer many of the other long-held questions regarding Book of Mormon territory, such as evidence of elephants and horses during Book of Mormon times; the Metals noted, and even the weather, which is the most often asked question by those searching for answers to the true location of Book of Mormon events. Other videos address the Great Destruction and the possibility of a volcanic eruption in the area. Still another, and perhaps one of the more important, Comparing Geographies, shows the correlation between the three most prominent Book of Mormon Geographies, i. e., 1-the Mesoamerican Setting, 2-the Heartland Setting, and 3-the New York Settings, so that those looking for answers will not have to plow through so much research themselves. More can be found on our YouTube Channel-Phyllis Olive Youtube.
Ample evidence exists of warfare in ancient New York. Of additional importance is the fact that Joseph Smith acknowledged the Hill Cumorah in New York State to be the very same hill Cumorah spoken of in the scriptures. Joseph Fielding Smith said:
. . . the Prophet Joseph Smith himself is on record, definitely declaring the present hill called Cumorah to be the exact hill spoken of in the Book of Mormon. Further, the fact that all of his associates from the beginning down have spoken of it as the identical hill where Mormon and Moroni hid the records, must carry some weight. It is difficult for a reasonable person to believe that such men as Oliver Cowdery, Brigham Young, Parley P. Pratt, Orson Pratt, David Whitmer, and many others, could speak frequently of the spot where the Prophet Joseph Smith obtained the plates as the Hill Cumorah, and not be corrected by the Prophet if that were not the fact. That they did speak of this hill in the days of the Prophet in this definite manner is an established record of history. (Joseph Fielding Smith, Doctrines of Salvation, Vol. 3, pp. 233-234.)
It is the opinion of numerous scholars that western New York was the scene of a terrible exterminating battle. Professor O. Turner did not hesitate to consider all the fortified hills in western New York as having been erected by a race which peopled this country before the Indians. He went on to say:
That here was war of extermination we may well conclude from the masses of human skeletons we find indiscriminately thrown together, indicating a common and simultaneous sepulture from which age, infancy, sex and no condition was exempt. (1)
Henry Clyde Shetrone mentions that the people of this region:
. . . once presented a scene of war, and war in its most horrible form, where blood is the object…That it was here that a feeble band was collected, a remnant of mighty battles fought in vain, to make a last effort for the country of their birth, the ashes of their ancestors and the altars of their gods. That the crisis was met with fortitude, and sustained with valor, need not be doubted…But their efforts were vain, and flight or death were the alternatives. (2)
After researching the region, B. H. Roberts said:
These described fortifications and burial mounds make it clear that western New York at some time has been the scene of destructive battles; and the fact constitutes strong presumptive evidence of the statements of the Book of Mormon that great battles were fought there. (3)
Watch the following video and see if you don’t agree. Follow the Jaredites, Mulekites, and Nephites from their entrance into the Promised Land to their ultimate doom around the Hill Ramah/Cumorah. and note just how perfectly the western New York setting fits the geographical setting described in the Book of Mormon. Moreover, the complicated references to a narrow neck of land and a narrow pass can also finally be resolved, as can the identity of the sea that divided the land and other landmarks noted in the Book of Mormon. In fact, so many things fit together so perfectly that one cannot help but wonder if Book of Mormon lands have not been found at last, a region not more than 80 miles from the Hill Cumorah itself, the only known landmark we have of that ancient setting.
1-O. Turner, Pioneer History of the Holland Land Purchase of Western New York , p. 20.
2-McGavin & Bean, Geography of the Book of Mormon, p. 84.
3-B.H.Roberts, New Witness for God, vol. 3, p. 73.
Each of the web pages on this site adds more validation that the saga played out in the Book of Mormon took place in the regions around Cumorah. For additional information visit our sister website where topics such as what the Brethren say about the Hill Cumorah, The Hill Cumorah’s Cave of Records, Mormon’s map & the siege of the Gadianton Robbers, and other topics of interest.
© Phyllis C. Olive
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