|Lucy Woodruff Smith standing on top |
of the Hill Cumorah with Pliny T. Sexton
At the April 1906 conference, George Albert Smith related events that took place during his visit to New York with President Joseph F. Smith. You can read his comments here:
The photo shows his wife, Lucy, standing on top of the Hill Cumorah with Pliny t. Sexton, who owned the hill at the time. This photo is in the manual Teachings of the Presidents of the Church: George Albert Smith. Here is the entire caption: "George Albert Smith was among the General Authorities assigned to purchase and preserve important Church history sites. In this photograph is Lucy Woodruff Smith standing on top of the Hill Cumorah with Pliny T. Sexton, who was the owner of most of the hill. By 1928 the Church acquired the Hill Cumorah and all of the property around it."
Here are the comments by George Albert Smith:
"We visited the Hill Cumorah and were accorded the courtesy of going thereon by the wife of Mr. George Sampson, a brother of Admiral Wm. Sampson, who before his death owned the property. When we went up there and looked around, we felt that we were standing on holy ground. The
brethren located, as near as they thought was possible, the place from which the plates of the Book of Mormon were taken by the Prophet. We were delighted to be there. Looking over the surrounding country we remembered that two great races of people had wound up their existence in the vicinity, had fought their last fight, and that hundreds of thousands had been slain within sight of that hill.
Evidence of the great battles that have been fought there in days gone by are manifest in the numerous spear and arrow-heads that have been found by farmers while plowing in that neighborhood. We were fortunate enough to obtain a few of the arrowheads. Upon the hill, near a
little grove of timber, the party stood and sang that glorious hymn:
An angel from on high
The long, long silence broke;
Descending from the sky,
These gracious words he spoke:
Lo! in Cumorah's lonely hill,
A sacred record lies concealed.
"And then, under the inspiration of the Lord, President Smith offered one of the most profound and beautiful prayers I have ever listened to. Everyone present was melted to tears. We felt the presence of the Spirit of our Father; and all who were there can testify that it was one of the most supremely happy moments of their lives."
Over a hundred years later, some prominent LDS scholars still insist Parley P. Pratt, who wrote the words to that hymn (which is still in our hymnal), was merely repeating a false tradition started by unknown early Church members, because the "real" Hill Cumorah is somewhere in Mexico.
These scholars insist Joseph F. Smith, George Albert Smith, and Joseph Fielding Smith didn't know what they were talking about. They insist these men, like Joseph Smith himself, adopted and embraced the false tradition that Cumorah is in New York.
These scholars insist the hill in New York is "clean" with no artifacts.
These scholars, including the contributors to FairMormon, Book of Mormon Central, the Interpreter, and the rest of the scholarly publications, insist the hill Cumorah is actually somewhere in Mexico, although they're not sure where. Other scholars insist the hill Cumorah is in Baja, or Panama, or elsewhere--just so long as it is not in New York.
Again, regarding the Hill Cumorah in New York, it's a clear choice: Joseph Smith, Oliver Cowdery, Joseph F. Smith, George Albert Smith, and Joseph Fielding Smith vs. modern LDS scholars.
Another report of the trip explained that President Smith's prayer was not recorded:
"They visited the Hill Cumorah, from which place a most excellent view of the country round is afforded. The party of course was reminded of the great and final battle of the Jaredites which took place around this hill, and later between the Lamanites and Nephites, and as souvenirs some of them brought flint arrow heads, which are continually being gathered now and sold as souvenirs. Prayer was offered on the hill and the site was pointed out as near as possible where the plates from which the Book of Mormon was translated were concealed. President Smith offered the prayer, but much to the regret of all it was not reported."
For more history about Cumorah, go here: