The Western New York Setting for the Book of Mormon

Previous to the occupancy of this region by the progenitors of the present race of Indians, it was inhabited by a race of men much more populous and advanced in civilization, a race who match in every way the Nephites of the Book of Mormon.

Relics of a Lost Civilization

Relics of some lost race were found with nearly every turn of the spade in upper New York during the early years of colonization. Thus, it was commonly accepted by scholars and laymen alike that an ancient civilization once occupied the area long before the Indians became lords of the land. In the introduction of the Book of Mormon we read: “The record gives an account of two great civilizations. One came from Jerusalem in 600 B.C., and afterwards separated into two nations, one known as the Nephites, and the other the Lamanites. . . after a thousand years, all were destroyed except the Lamanites, and they are the principle ancestors of the American Indians.” Thus, perhaps the time has come to concentrate more heavily on those lands surrounding the only known landmark we have of the Book of Mormon, the Hill Cumorah in New York State, the very place the record of the Nephites were deposited by Moroni, the last Nephite prophet to walk the land after the destruction of his people.

Book of Mormon Lands and People

By following the archaeological record, DNA, skull types, language ties, and time-line, we can place the Nephite civilization in the lands around Cumorah with the western New York landscape matching the geographical descriptions provided in the Book of Mormon perfectly. While knowing the location of Book of Mormon events is far less important than tasting the sweetness of the doctrines found scattered throughout that sacred text, adding the geographical picture adds still another dimension to the work and makes it easier to follow the people of the Book of Mormon as they battle over lands they love and migrate out into neighboring regions. The migration of the Nephites and Mulekites into western New York is depicted in the accompanying video, a merged company who lived in the land for 900 years before the terrible exterminating battle that ended their nation’s long history in 385 A.D.View the accompanying video and see just how well each of the various descriptions noted in the Book of Mormon can be laid out in the western New York setting, a land filled with many waters and dozens of other landmarks referred to in the Book of Mormon. See how they all fit together in a panoramic view of what Book of Mormon territory must have looked like for the Nephites when ancient bodies of waters and great primeval forests filled the land from one end to the other.
From the Bible where we learn of “the stick of Joseph,” and “the stick of Judah.” It is commonly accepted by the LDS community that the Book of Mormon is the stick of Joseph, that portion of Israel whose branches extended beyond the wall (see Genesis 49:22), with the family of Lehi, the first family carrying the blood of Joseph beyond the wall to America. We learn in Geneses that "Joseph is a fruitful bough, even a fruitful bough by a well; whose branches run over the wall:" (Genesis 49:22) with the "wall" understood to symbolize the oceans separating the American continent from Eurasia, for passages in the Book of Mormon speak of America as the land of inheritance for Joseph’s seed. Joseph was Jacob’s favorite son. Because he had been treated so shamefully by his brothers who sold him into slavery, Jacob gave Joseph the birthright blessing in Israel, notwithstanding Judah retained the crown, or the right to rule.

Two Royal Lines

Two royal lines ultimately made it to America, Joseph’s line and Judah’s line. While Judah’s line remained for the most part in the old world, branches of Judah were also led west across the sea to the new world, the Mulekites, a company carrying the last remaining son of King Zedekiah of Jerusalem to America, where together with the Nephites they merged and became one nation. A secondary kingly line also made it west. Research has revealed that the line of Zarah-Judah also made it across the sea and played a big part in colonizing the ancient Americas. Zarah was the twin brother of Perez, who fathered the Mulekites. While Perez carried the birthright blessing in Israel, his brother, the son of the scarlet thread, was also due great blessings. We might remember from our study of the Bible that during the birth of the twin boys, Zarah’s little hand emerged from his mother’s womb first and a scarlet thread was placed round his wrist to show his right to the birthright blessing. But, then, expectantly, the young prince pulled his little hand back in, and Perez emerged first, not Zarah, which then gave Perez the birthright blessing in Israel, and thus also the crown. Yet the Lord did not forget Zarah. While Perez ruled in Israel and was the line through which the Savior would come, Zarah went on to father kingly lines throughout much of the western world, even in America and Mexico.

Voyages west across the Atlantic were made as far back as Jaredite times, with others heading west from Asia Minor, and Europe, England, Iberia, Ireland, and Scandinavia, as trade began to blossom during the Bronze Age and throughout the post-flood world. A number of these ancient migrations are explained in more depth in the upcoming book, The Lost Sheep of Ancient America, due to be released in Dec of 2015. But for now, the accompanying video explains, in part, how a number of colonies with ties to both Israel and Judah made it to ancient America.

The Book of Mormon is more than a record of two ancient civilizations. It provides a testimony of Christ’s visit to his New World Flock where He ministered to His people and organized His church among them. Thus, the ground He walked in the new world is just as sacred as those He walked in the old world. It is no wonder so many people keep searching for Book of Mormon territory. Yet, even if all our efforts prove vain, the Book of Mormon speaks for itself, with the whisperings of the Holy Ghost the only sure way to know of its truthfulness, not by walking the ground the Savior once trod. Having said that, the search goes on, with no better fit for the lands of the Book of Mormon than the lands of western New York.

THe Lost Sheep of Ancient America