Wednesday, July 19, 2017

Oliver's qualifications to write Letter VII

The LDS scholars and educators who try to discredit Letter VII because Oliver wasn't qualified to write it generally base their position on the premise that Oliver never "claimed revelation" about the Hill Cumorah.

The obvious response is, why would Oliver claim revelation when he had personally visited Mormon's depository of records, right there in the hill Cumorah in New York?

There's another consideration.

On April 19, 1834, Joseph gave Oliver a special blessing related to writing and publishing.

Brothers Joseph, Sidney, and Zebedee then laid hands upon bro. Oliver, and confirmed upon him the blessings of wisdom and understanding sufficient for his station; that he be qualified to assist brother Sidney in arranging the church covenants which are to be soon published; and to have intelligence in all things to do the work of printing. 

Here's the link to the original:

Aside from all his other qualifications, this blessing from Joseph Smith tells us that Oliver had "the blessings of wisdom and understanding" he needed to write the eight historical letters, including Letter VII.

There are also some who oppose Letter VII who say that Joseph didn't really help Oliver write the letters. Here's one reason to think Joseph and Oliver worked together.

On August 17, 1835, the Presidency of the Church met to examine and approve the book of commandments and covenants, which had been compiled and written by the committee. This took place when Oliver was still writing and publishing the letters.

Here are the minutes:

General Assembly,
Convened in   August 17th. A.D. 1835 by the  of the  , for the purpose of Examining a book of commandments and covenants, which has been compiled and written by the following committee, which was appointed by a general assembly of the Church in  Sept. 24th 1834 & instructing the writers of said Book. This committee was nominated, by the Speaker of the  , seconded & voted into this office, by the whole body of the church then assembled. The names of the Committe are as follows Joseph Smith Junr.   &  . This Committe having finished said Book according to the instructions given them, it was deemed necessary to call the general assembly of the Church to see whether the book be approved or not by the Authoroties of the church, that it may, if approved, become a law. unto the church, and a rule of faith and practice unto the same. Therefore, this assembly was called to order & organized as follows. First the Presidents of the church in  , (Viz.)
}present and took the lead of the meeting
Joseph Smith Junr.}absent

Joseph and Oliver worked on this committee to "compile and write" the revelations. It seems strange to argue that they did not also work together on the historical letters that Oliver was publishing in the same time frame.

Tuesday, July 18, 2017

Mormon's repository in Cumorah explained in Letter VII

I find that many members of the Church are unaware of Mormon's repository of records in the Hill Cumorah in New York, so I'm reviewing that here.

In Letter VII, Oliver Cowdery wrote that Mormon, "by divine appointment, abridged from those [Nephite] records, in his own style and language, a short account of the more important and prominent items, from the days of Lehi to his own time, after which he deposited, as he says, on the 529th page, [now Mormon 6:6] all the records in this same hill, Cumorah and after gave his small record to his son Moroni, who, as appears from the same, finished, after witnessing the extinction of his people as a nation."

How did Oliver know that the Hill Cumorah in New York was the one Mormon described in Mormon 6:6? Was he just speculating, as many of our LDS scholars and educators claim?

Orson Pratt and others explained there were two separate departments in the Hill Cumorah in New York.


Brigham Young addressed this point in a sermon he delivered just two months before he died. He was organizing a stake in Davis County, Utah, on June 17, 1877, and he made these observations. [my comments in red].

"I believe I will take the liberty to tell you of another circumstance that will be as marvelous as anything can be. This is an incident in the life of Oliver Cowdery, but he did not take the liberty of telling such things in meeting as I take. 

[So far as we know, Oliver didn't write anything about this except for what he wrote in Letters VII and VIII.]

I tell these things to you, and I have a motive for doing so. I want to carry them to the ears of my brethren and sisters, and to the children also, that they may grow to an understanding of some things that seem to be entirely hidden from the human family.

[Brigham thought this was important for people to know. We don't know if he knew he was going to die two months later, but this was one of his last sermons.]

Oliver Cowdery went with the Prophet Joseph when he deposited these plates. Joseph did not translate all of the plates; there was a portion of them sealed, which you can learn from the Book of Doctrine and Covenants. When Joseph got the plates, the angel instructed him to carry them back to the hill Cumorah, which he did.

[I'm not aware of another account of these instructions, so we're limited to this statement. There are at least three times when "Joseph got the plates." The first was in September 1827, when he retrieved the first set of plates from Moroni's stone box. We have no account of Joseph being told to return them to the hill Cumorah on that occasion. The second time he obtained the plates was when they were returned to him after Martin Harris lost the 116 pages. We have no details about that. The third time Joseph received the plates was in Fayette. This is the most likely event that Brigham was referring to here because we already know that he didn't return the plates to the hill Cumorah after the first two times he got them. The first time, after Harris lost the 116 pages, the plates were taken from Joseph. The second time, before he left Harmony, Joseph gave the plates to a messenger who in turn carried them to Cumorah. This leaves the third time, when Joseph got the plates from the angel in Fayette. These were the plates of Nephi, mentioned in D&C 10, which Joseph translated in Fayette. We know that shortly after he finished the translation, he showed a set of plates to the 8 Witnesses in the Palmyra area. His mother said Joseph got those plates from one of the 3 Nephites, but she doesn't say when this occurred. It seems likely that it was one of the 3 Nephites who got the plates of Nephi from the Hill Cumorah, took them to Fayette, and instructed Joseph to carry them back to the hill Cumorah. Before doing so, Joseph showed them to the 8 witnesses. Alternatively, Joseph could have returned them to the hill Cumorah and then retrieved them again to show the 8 witnesses. Or, possibly, the Nephite gave Joseph the plates in the Palmyra area with instructions to return them to the hill Cumorah. Overall, this statement of Brigham's corroborates the two-sets-of-plates scenario.]

Oliver says that when Joseph and Oliver went there, the hill opened, and they walked into a cave, in which there was a large and spacious room.

[This statement has caused some confusion, but it's clear when understood in context. The room found on the Hill Cumorah that matches the description of the repository opens from the top. In that sense, the hill "opens" when you lift the lid. It's not a magical opening door like the automatic sliding doors we see everywhere today. When Brigham says "a cave," the term can refer to either a natural or artificial (man-made) hollow space within a hill or mountain. Others said the room was about 16 x 16, which fits Brigham's description by comparison to many of the rooms in pioneer-era homes.]

He says he did not think, at the time, whether they had the light of the sun or artificial light; but that it was just as light as day.

[This makes sense because the opening was in the ceiling. The sun would naturally shine inside, and as one's eyes adjusted, it would be plenty bright.]

They laid the plates on a table; it was a large table that stood in the room. Under this table there was a pile of plates as much as two feet high, and there were altogether in this room more plates than probably many wagon loads; they were piled up in the corners and along the walls.

[IMO, this is the same table and plates that David Whitmer described, except he (like Oliver) knew he wasn't supposed to speak publicly about this repository. That's why he retroactively claimed he saw these things when the angel appeared at the 3 Witnesses event. It's also interesting that Brigham refers to "probably many wagon loads." This appears to be Oliver's first impression. Later, IMO, Oliver and others actually did move the plates on wagons.]

The first time they went there the sword of Laban hung upon the wall; but when they went again it had been taken down and laid upon the table across the gold plates; it was unsheathed, and on it was written these words: “This sword will never be sheathed again until the kingdoms of this world become the kingdom of our God and his Christ.”

[This is another example of the confusion David Whitmer caused when he claimed he saw the sword of Laban at the time the 3 Witnesses saw the plates. The sword of Laban was never in Moroni's stone box. I don't think the 3 Witnesses saw it when they first saw the plates for several reasons I've discussed before. Here, we learn it was hanging on the wall in Mormon's repository. This statement also tells us that Joseph and Oliver, at least, visited the repository at least twice.]

[Note: in the FairMormon article discussed below, they omit the following portions of Brigham Young's sermon.]

I tell you this as coming not only from Oliver Cowdery, but others who were familiar with it, and who understood it just as well as we understand coming to this meeting, enjoying the day, and by and by we separate and go away, forgetting most of what is said, but remembering some things. So is it with other circumstances in life.

[Oliver was not the only one familiar with the repository. It's difficult to imagine anyone who had visited the repository forgetting about it, but apparently others had heard the same account from Oliver but had forgotten about it. It was to make sure people didn't forget that Brigham gave this sermon, yet many Church members today still don't know about this event.]

I relate this to you, and I want you to understand it. I take this liberty of referring to those things so that they will not be forgotten and lost. 

[By now, if you didn't know about this before, you're wondering why not. The answer is simple. Our leading LDS scholars and educators (and their students who staff the Curriculum department) promote the two-Cumorahs theory, which claims that Mormon's repository is somewhere in a Mexican mountain that is the "real" Cumorah. Later in this post I'll show some examples of how they treat what Oliver and Brigham' taught about the repository, but you can see this "two-Cumorahs" theory on display right now in the North Visitors Center on Temple Square, as I explain here.]

Carlos Smith was a young man of as much veracity as any young man we had, and he was a witness to these things.

[He's referring to Don Carlos, Joseph's younger brother who became the editor of the Times and Seasons. In 1841, Don Carlos republished Letter VII so everyone in the Church would know about the New York Cumorah, including Mormon's repository. Our LDS scholars and educators think Don Carlos was merely repeating a false tradition about the New York Cumorah. Here, Brigham Young tells us that Don Carlos, like Oliver Cowdery, knew from personal experience that there was only one Cumorah and it was in New York.]

Samuel Smith saw some things, Hyrum saw a good many things, but Joseph was the leader.

[Unfortunately, Brigham doesn't tell us exactly what things Joseph's brothers saw.]

Now, you may think I am unwise in publicly telling these things, thinking perhaps I should preserve them in my own breast; but such is not my mind.

[Had Brigham not publicly told these things, he would have taken them to his grave two months later.]

I would like the people called Latter-day Saints to understand some little things with regard to the workings and dealings of the Lord with his people here upon the earth.

[So would I. And I hope you share this with people you know, as well.]

Here's the reference for Brigham's sermon:

Now, what do our scholars and educators say about the repository?

Let's start with FairMormon. They have an article on this here:

I've spoken to FairMormon about this but they refuse to change the article or add additional material to it, so I think it's important for people to know what they're doing.

They quote part of Brigham Young's sermon, omitting the part about other witnesses to the site and Brigham's emphasis that he did not want this account to be forgotten and lost.

Then they make this awesome statement, followed by their comments. Everything below is from their web site, except my comments in red):

The geologic unlikelihood of a cave existing within the drumlin in New York called "Hill Cumorah" suggests that the experience related by the various witnesses was most likely a vision [This is another example of how FairMormon and other Mesomaniacs keep telling people that our modern prophets and apostles are not trustworthy. I'll defer comments to the explanations below.]

There are at least ten second hand accounts describing the story of the cave in Cumorah, however, Joseph Smith himself did not record the incident. [2] 
[FairMormon usually makes this logical error. When they claim "Joseph Smith himself did not record the incident," what they really mean is "there are no extant written documents by Joseph about this incident." Obviously, we can't say Joseph didn't record or relate the incident; we just don't have a record of him doing so. However, FairMormon doesn't tell you about Letter VII, which Joseph helped write and which he endorsed. As mentioned above, Letter VII verifies that the repository is located in the Hill Cumorah in New York.]
As mentioned previously, the Hill Cumorah located in New York state is a drumlin: this means it is a pile of gravel scraped together by an ancient glacier. The geologic unlikelihood of a cave existing within the hill such as the one described suggests that the experience related by the various witnesses was most likely a vision, or a divine transportation to another locale (as with Nephi's experience in 1 Nephi 11:1). 
[Of course, this theory is rebutted by the discovery of an actual room in the Hill Cumorah that matches the description, but let's set that aside to consider the reasoning here. Brigham and the others spoke of a room. Mormon says he deposited all the records, a point Oliver verified in Letter VII. Because these accounts contradict the two-Cumorahs and Mesoamerican theories, our LDS scholars and educators seize upon Brigham's use of the term "cave" and insist it must refer to a "natural cave," even though the term applies to both natural and artificial (man-made) caves. Then they claim Oliver, Don Carlos, and the others who personally knew about the repository, as well as Brigham Young who heard about it, must have been relating some sort of mass "vision" or, even better, "a divine transportation to another locale." And this happened not only once, with multiple people, but multiple times. And this happened after the angel told Joseph to "carry [the plates] back to the hill Cumorah." One of many obvious questions is, why did Joseph, Oliver, Don Carlos, Hyrum and others have to be teleported to Mexico? Why didn't the angel just teleport the plates? For that matter, why did the angel tell Joseph to carry the plates "back to the hill Cumorah" if Joseph was going to enjoy "divine transportation" to Mexico?
This is one of the prime examples of the absurd arguments that have to be concocted by our Mesomania scholars and educators to perpetuate their theories. In my view, this is just as bad as their basic premise that Joseph and Oliver were ignorant speculators who misled the Church about Cumorah; i.e., now our scholars and educators want people to disbelieve Brigham Young as well.] 
John Tvedtnes supports this view:
The story of the cave full of plates inside the Hill Cumorah in New York is often given as evidence that it is, indeed, the hill where Mormon hid the plates. Yorgason quotes one version of the story from Brigham Young and alludes to six others collected by Paul T. Smith. Unfortunately, none of the accounts is firsthand.
[Seriously? Brigham Young prefaced his comments by explaining that Oliver didn't speak about these things in public. With good reason, it turns out, as David Whitmer explained. Of course, the implication here is that Brigham is not to be trusted; he's merely repeating hearsay. Our LDS scholars and educators who promote this line of reasoning never mention that Letter VII is as first hand as it gets.]
The New York Hill Cumorah is a moraine laid down anciently by a glacier in motion. It is comprised of gravel and earth. Geologically, it is impossible for the hill to have a cave,
[Here, he insists it had to be a natural cave, not a man-made cave, which is not required by the term itself, or the text. And, of course, he never mentions Letter VII.]
and all those who have gone in search of the cave have come back empty-handed.
[Hmm. It would be useful for the LDS scholars and educators who make this claim to provide a reference, wouldn't it? Who has gone "in search of a cave" in the Hill Cumorah? When?] 
If, therefore, the story attributed to Oliver Cowdery (by others) is true, then the visits to the cave perhaps represent visions, perhaps of some far distant hill, not physical events.[3]
[Again, notice the questioning of Brigham Young and the others who related the account, as well as of Oliver Cowdery. Purely because the New York Cumorah contradicts their two-Cumorahs and Mesoamerican theories, these LDS scholars and educators want you to believe that Joseph, Oliver were ignorant speculators who misled the Church, repeating as actual events some "vision" of "some far distant hill" (presumably in Mexico), and "not physical events." This is exactly the same argument made by anti-Mormons who think everything Joseph and Oliver said did not involve "physical events."]

Given that the angel Moroni had retrieved the plates from Joseph several times previously, it is not unreasonable to assume that he was capable of transporting them to a different location than the hill in New York. As Tvedtnes asks, "If they could truly be moved about, why not from Mexico, for example?"[3]

[This might be my favorite spin of all. I'd like to see documentation for when "Moroni had retrieved the plates from Joseph several times previously." The only two times I'm aware of where after the 116 pages were lost, and before Joseph left Harmony. We don't know it was Moroni to whom Joseph gave them before he left Harmony, although some assume it was. But this was not a magical, "divine" transportation event. They met the messenger along the road to Fayette. He had the plates in his knapsack. He was physically carrying them back to Cumorah. 

I realize the Mesomanics want you to think these plates could be magically transported from Mexico to Palmyra, willy nilly, because they can't otherwise explain these incidents in Church history. But that theory contradicts the text of the Book of Mormon as well as Letter VII and all the other accounts in Church history. If the plates (and other artifacts) were so easily transported, why did Moroni have to build a box of stone and cement and bury them all the way in New York 1400 years before Joseph could get them? 

I'm not going to take the time to show you more examples of the way the Mesomaniacs undermine faith in the founders of the Church, but you will find lots of examples if you look for them.]

Monday, July 10, 2017

Letter VII inoculation and the two departments in the New York Cumorah

I need to post something about Letter VII that has been overlooked, but it's important to provide the context for the issue for those new to this site.

Some LDS scholars and educators are still trying to persuade people that the "real" Cumorah is in Mexico. They advocate the "two-Cumorahs" and "Mesoamerican" theories that claim Joseph Smith and Oliver Cowdery were ignorant speculators who misled the Church with a false tradition about Cumorah being in New York.

[Some people don't believe our LDS scholars and educators teach these things, but anyone who teaches the limited Mesoamerican geography models teaches exactly what I wrote in the preceding paragraph. You'll see it in BYU Studies, the Interpreter, Mesomania Meridian Magazine, FairMormon, the old FARMS stuff, everything published by the Maxwell Institute, BMAF, Book of Mormon Central (America), etc.]

Those who have read Letter VII are inoculated against these theories. That's why you won't see Letter VII being taught at BYU, CES, or in anything published by the citation cartel.*

Here's a simple example.

Orson Pratt, Brigham Young, Wilford Woodruff, Heber C. Kimball and others explained that Mormon's repository (Mormon 6:6) was in the same Hill Cumorah in New York from which Joseph obtained the plates from Moroni. There were two departments in the hill. Moroni's stone box was in one location, while the repository of Nephite records was in another location. I've provided the references plenty of times.

Letter VII explained this first, though.

Mormon, "by divine appointment, abridged from those records, in his own style and language, a short account of the more important and prominent items, from the days of Lehi to his own time, after which he deposited, as he says, on the 529th page, all the records in this same hill, Cumorah and after gave his small record to his son Moroni, who, as appears from the same, finished, after witnessing the extinction of his people as a nation."

Here's the link from Joseph  Smith's own history:

Bonus clue. Those who are familiar with the two sets of plates scenario will recognize that Oliver is telling us about that here as well. Oliver says Mormon gave "his small record" to Moroni. Mormon's "small record" consisted of the abridgment, "in his own style and language." Mormon deposited all of the original records in the hill Cumorah in New York. The abridged records are the ones Joseph took to Harmony, where he translated them all (except the sealed portion), through the last leaf (the Title Page).

But in D&C 10, the Lord tells Joseph he has to translate the plates of Nephi to replace the lost 116 pages.

The plates of Nephi were not abridged. They were original records. Consequently, it is not only the title page and all the other evidence that informs us that Joseph did not have the plates of Nephi in Harmony, but here, Oliver tells us the same thing.

Mormon did not give any original plates to Moroni.

Joseph did not get the plates of Nephi from Moroni's stone box. He never had them in Harmony. He didn't get them until he arrived in Fayette.

We just have to pay close attention to understand what Oliver is saying, but it's as clear as words can be.

*The sole exception of which I am aware is Book of Mormon Central, which, to their credit, did put the first edition of my short book titled Letter VII: Oliver Cowdery's Message to the World about the Hill Cumorah, into their database. But then they added critical articles without giving me a chance to respond or even including my responses that they know about. Unsuspecting readers who go to Book of Mormon Central think they are getting both sides of the issue of Letter VII, but instead they are getting a false, incomplete presentation of the issues with the editorial thumb firmly on the Mesomania side of the scale.

For this reason, I no longer even try to work with Book of Mormon Central. They are unabashed advocates of the two-Cumorahs and Mesoamerican theories, exactly as I described in the first paragraph. 

Tuesday, July 4, 2017

The First Presidency taught...

In the First Presidency message for July 2017, President Eyring wrote an insightful article titled "The Reward of Enduring Well" that contains this passage:

The First Presidency taught Elder Parley P. Pratt (1807–57) when he was a newly called member of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles: “You have enlisted in a cause that requires your whole attention; … become a polished shaft. … You must endure much toil, much labor, and many privations to become perfectly polished. … Your Heavenly Father requires it; the field is His; the work is His; and He will … cheer you … and buoy you up.”1

Footnote 1 is "Autobiography of Parley P. Pratt, ed. Parley P. Pratt Jr. (1979), 120.

The original source for this passage is Minutes and Blessings, 21 February 1835, found in the Joseph Smith papers here:

The passage follows this explanation: "The following charge was then given Elder P. P. Pratt by President O. Cowdery."

This charge, given by Oliver Cowdery, was done on behalf of the First Presidency. This is why President Eyring tells us that "the First Presidency taught" Elder Pratt, even though it was Oliver who did the instructing.

At the conclusion of Oliver's charge, the minutes record this:

"Elder Pratt gave his hand to President O. Cowdery and said he had received ordination and should fulfil the ministry according to the grace given him. To which the President replied, Go forth and Angels shall bear thee up and thou shalt come forth at the last day bringing many with thee."

Can there be any doubt that Oliver Cowdery acted with the authority of the First Presidency?

That same month, February 1835, the Messenger and Advocate published Oliver Cowdery's letter IV. A few months later, in July 1835, Oliver published Letter VII.

Because it contradicts their theories (the two-Cumorahs and Mesoamerican theories), many LDS scholars and educators still try to persuade members of the Church that Letter VII is false. They actually want you to believe that Oliver Cowdery, who was the Assistant President of the Church at the time, acted with the authority of the First Presidency in all matters except for certain passages of this one letter. 

Think about that for a moment.

The Mesoamerican activists want you to believe that Oliver (and Joseph Smith, who helped write these letters and endorsed them multiple times) were ignorant speculators who misled the Church. This is especially ironic because Oliver started Letter VII by pointing out that  "any tune can be played upon the bible." As he explained, "What is here meant to be conveyed, I suppose, is, that proof can be adduced from that volume, to support as many different systems as men please to choose."

It was specifically to avoid that problem that Oliver wrote with clarity and precision about the early history of the Church. He noted that "men, in previous generations, have, with polluted hands and corrupt hearts, taken from the sacred oracles many precious items which were plain of comprehension, for the main purpose of building themselves up in the trifling things of this world."

It seems possible, if not likely, that Oliver anticipated a future time when even members of the Church would question basic facts about Church history that were well known in his day. Perhaps it was for that reason that he emphasized the fact that the hill in New York, where Joseph found the plates, was in reality the Hill Cumorah of the Book of Mormon. Here's what he wrote:

"At about one mile west rises another ridge of less height, running parallel with the former, leaving a beautiful vale between. The soil is of the first quality for the country, and under a state of cultivation, which gives a prospect at once imposing, when one reflects on the fact, that here, between these hills, the entire power and national strength of both the Jaredites and Nephites were destroyed.

"By turning to the 529th and 530th pages of the book of Mormon you will read Mormon's account of the last great struggle of his people, as they were encamped round this hill Cumorah. (It is printed Camorah, which is an error.) In this valley fell the remaining strength and pride of a once powerful people, the Nephites-once so highly favored of the Lord, but at that time in darkness, doomed to suffer extermination by the hand of their barbarous and uncivilized brethren. From the top of this hill, Mormon, with a few others, after the battle, gazed with horror upon the mangled remains of those who, the day before, were filled with anxiety, hope, or doubt. A few had fled to the South, who were hunted down by the victorious party, and all who would not deny the Savior and his religion, were put to death. Mormon himself, according to the record of his son Moroni, was also slain.

"But a long time previous to this national disaster it appears from his own account, he foresaw approaching destruction. In fact, if he perused the records of his fathers, which were in his possession, he could have learned that such would be the case. Alma, who lived before the coming of the Messiah, prophesies this. He however, by divine appointment, abridged from those records, in his own style and language, a short account of the more important and prominent items, from the days of Lehi to his own time, after which he deposited, as he says, on the 529th page, all the records in this same hill, Cumorah, and after gave his small record to his son Moroni, who, as appears from the same, finished, after witnessing the extinction of his people as a nation."

The Mesoamerican advocates want you to disbelieve what Oliver wrote here because it directly contradicts their own theories.

But isn't their approach exactly what Oliver was seeking to refute?

The Mesoamerican activists are "playing their own tune" on the writings of Oliver Cowdery, specifically repudiating what he so clearly and unambiguously declared.

Remember that whenever you read about Book of Mormon geography in BYU Studies, FairMormon, the Intepreter, Book of Mormon Central, Meridian Magazine, or any other member of the citation cartel.

Wednesday, June 28, 2017

The Credibility of the Book of Mormon Translators

Richard Lloyd Anderson wrote an excellent article titled "The Credibility of the Book of Mormon Translators" that was a chapter in Book of Mormon Authorship: New Light on Ancient Origins, ed. Noel B. Reynolds (Provo, UT: Religious Studies Center, Brigham Young University, 1982), 213–37.

You can find the article and book online here:

I highly recommend the article, which explains why Joseph Smith and Oliver Cowdery deserve to be believed. It concludes with this:

A secular society hardly recognizes that decisions can be made in terms of future accountability. But the Prophet reveals this perspective in adjusting a conflict with the intense comment, “I would be willing to be weighed in the scale of truth today in this matter, and risk it in the day of judgment.” [61] The Prophet and Cowdery kept journals with periodic and profound introspection. Thus Cowdery’s editorial farewell rings true in saying that he had well counted the cost of trying to “persuade others to believe as myself,” and he willingly faced the “judgment seat of Christ,” who would see “the integrity of my heart.” [62] The names of Joseph Smith and Oliver Cowdery led the rest in certifying the truth of the events and teachings of the 1835 Doctrine and Covenants, the first book to name the messengers restoring both the Book of Mormon and the two priesthoods. [63] The preface, stamped with Oliver Cowdery’s phraseology, expresses their solemn view of eternal responsibility: “We do not present this little volume with any other expectation than that we are to be called to answer to every principle advanced, in that day when the secrets of all hearts will be revealed, and the reward of every man’s labor be given him.”

But there is some tremendous irony here. First, the article doesn't mention Oliver's 8 letters about Church history, including Letter VII. Was that an intentional omission, an oversight, or an intervention by an editor who rejects Letter VII and its implications?

Second, the book containing this article was edited by Noel Reynolds, who, I'm informed, is a staunch Mesoamerican proponent who insists Cumorah is not in New York. IOW, he believes Joseph and Oliver were ignorant speculators who misled the Church about the New York Cumorah.

In my ongoing effort to understand why LDS scholars and educators reject Letter VII, this article demonstrates the major problem of the Mesomaniacs who want us to believe Joseph and Oliver were credible and reliable about literally everything except Letter VII.

Tuesday, June 13, 2017

Preface to the Book of Mormon, ca. 1829

Today we're going to see another example of the Mesomania bias in the Joseph Smith Papers and the ongoing rejection of Letter VII (in this case, even when it is cited).

The first edition of the Book of Mormon contained a preface, written by Joseph Smith, that explains the situation with the lost 116 pages.

You can see the original here:

Also on pages 93-4 in Joseph Smith Papers Documents, Volume 1, July 1828-1831

Most of the Preface is written in first person, active voice. The exception is the final clause in the last sentence:

"I would also inform you that the plates of which hath been spoken, were found in the township of Manchester, Ontario county, New-York."5

Note 5 reads: In September 1827, JS removed the plates from a hill in Manchester Township. (See JS History, vol. A-1, 8; and Oliver Cowdery, “Letter VII,” LDS Messenger and Advocate, July 1835, 1:158.)  

The citation to Letter VII is awesome, but think about this a moment. Why does Joseph Smith use the passive voice only for this clause? And to what plates is he referring? And why is the hill not named, when it is named in Letter VII itself?

The only plates Joseph refers to in this preface are the plates of Lehi and the plates of Nephi. He mentions "the Book of Lehi, which was an account abridged from the plates of Lehi, by the hand of Mormon."

Why is this?

The Preface follows two reproductions of the Title Page (the Title Page itself, followed by the copyright application that quotes the entire Title Page). The Title Page describes the plates as the two sets of abridgments, plus the sealing by Moroni. But it never mentions the plates of Nephi.

Of course, this is the reason the Lord had to tell Joseph about the plates of Nephi in D&C 10; i.e., he didn't have the plates of Nephi when he was in Harmony. Don't forget, he said the Title Page was translated from the last leaf of the plates, and he translated it in Harmony.

I think this explains why Joseph used the passive voice in the Preface. He not only didn't have the plates of Nephi when he was in Harmony (because they were not in Moroni's stone box), but he didn't get them himself from the Hill Cumorah. Someone else did, and then brought them to Fayette for Joseph to translate.

Consequently, Joseph wrote that "the plates of which hath been spoken," i.e., the plates of Nephi he translated to replace the lost 116 pages, "were found." He didn't find them; someone else did.

Hence, he wrote in the passive voice here.

With this understanding, note 5 in the JSP is incorrect. JS did not remove the plates of Nephi from the Hill Cumorah.

And note 5 is misleading because it refers merely to "a hill" even though Letter VII clearly identifies the hill as the Book of Mormon Cumorah--right there in New York.

Friday, June 9, 2017

Mormon History Association - Mounds and Mormons

I spoke at the Mormon History Association's annual conference last week on the topic of the Mormons and the Mounds. In my presentation, I focused on mounds around St. Louis (aka, Mound City), famous mounds in LDS history, including Enon and Zelph's mound, and the mounds in and around Nauvoo.

I'm going to use the PowerPoint presentation at upcoming events, and the presentation was quite different from this paper, but people have asked about my paper so here is the first draft of the paper that I'm posting here for comments/input. I've been asked to submit it for publication, but it needs more work and I'm waiting for some additional developments anyway.

The Mormons and the Mounds

Jonathan Neville

MHA Presentation
June 2017
St. Louis, Missouri


“Mormonism sprang from the mounds,” wrote Roger Kennedy, former director of the Smithsonian National Museum of American History. Even before the Book of Mormon was published, Mormonism was linked to the Moundbuilder civilizations of North America. One man who claimed to have heard a reading of the lost 116 pages said “It was a description of the mounds about the country and similar to the ‘Book of Mormon.’” In 1843, Joseph Smith apparently alluded to the 116 pages when he said the Book of Mormon spoke about sacred burial places. Several authors have placed the Book of Mormon among other 19th century books about the origins of the Moundbuilders.  At one time, there were over a million ancient earth mounds in North America; approximately 100,000 remain today. Many of these mounds are located in the territory from western New York through western Missouri where early Mormon history took place. Three specific mounds figure prominently in LDS history: Zelph’s mound in Illinois, the Kinderhook mound, also in Illinois, from which the six brass plates were taken, and Enon mound in Ohio. Until the early Saints leveled them to build homes and farms, Indian mounds dominated Nauvoo. Joseph Smith purchased one and resorted to it from time to time. Less well known are the mounds located just north of Nauvoo that have recently been discovered and preserved. The connections between Mormonism and the mounds of North America have yet to be fully explored.

The Mormons and the Mounds

Twenty-five miles east southeast of the site of the 2017 Mormon History Association’s 52nd Annual Conference in St. Charles, Missouri, sits one of only 22 UNESCO World Heritage Sites in the United States: Cahokia Mounds State Historic Site.
According to UNESCO, Cahokia is the largest pre-Columbian settlement north of Mexico.[1] It includes Monks Mound, the largest prehistoric earthwork in the Western Hemisphere. Cahokia was a prominent feature in the 1830s and 1840s when Mormons passed through the St. Louis region on Mississippi River steamboats. The site originally included 120 mounds and covered about 4,000 acres. Native Americans lived there between 800-1400 A.D. (the Mississippian period), so it is post-Book of Mormon era, but many other significant mound sites along the Mississippi River did flourish during Book of Mormon times.
Elm Point Mound was located just three miles north of the St. Charles Convention Center until it was leveled for residential development. The mound contained burials covered with limestone slabs and featuring red ochre staining. Projectile points, a grooved axe, and other artifacts were found at this site before its destruction.[2] A mile to the east is a district still called Les Mamelles, named after two 150-foot mounds that looked out over the plains to the north situated between the Missouri and Mississippi Rivers.
St. Louis itself was once nicknamed Mound City because of the many large mounds once located within current city limits. The largest of these, Big Mound, located on what is now Mound Street and North Broadway, would have been visible to Mormons traveling to Nauvoo from the Gulf of Mexico or from the Ohio River. Big Mound served as a landmark for Mississippi River steamboat pilots until it was leveled in 1868.
The sole remaining mound in St. Louis is Sugarloaf Mound. It has been purchased by the Osage Nation for preservation.
While Big Mound may have been one of the first ancient Indian mounds experienced by European Mormons immigrating to Nauvoo, the mounds were commonplace for American Mormons in the 19th Century. Joseph Smith’s birth state of Vermont features hundreds of ancient stone structures. Ethan Smith, the Vermont preacher, wrote A View of the Hebrews in part to explain the origins of the “walled towns,” “Forts,” and “watchtowers” he was familiar with.
New York State was rich with ancient mounds. New York governor DeWitt Clinton wrote about numerous such sites. In 1817, he wrote that a mound near Ridgway, Genesee County, about 65 miles northwest of Palmyra, contained piles of skeletons that “were deposited there by their conquerors.”[3]
When the early Saints moved from New York to Ohio, they encountered Indian mounds everywhere they went. Some remain, such as Indian Point, located just 14 miles northeast of the Kirtland Temple. This ancient Indian enclosure features two earthen walls bordered by ditches and protected on two sides of a triangle by steep cliffs. The walls were built around 140 B.C. The Zion’s Camp march passed several mounds, including two that were specifically noted in the historical record: Enon mound outside of Dayton, Ohio, and Zelph’s mound near the Illinois River.
Ancient Indian mounds are common in Missouri as well. According to the State Historic Preservation Office, “There are 37,000 known sites in the state, but that’s probably a small fraction of the total.”[4]
The connections between Mormonism and the mounds have been addressed in several books and articles. This paper provides a brief overview of the literature and introduces some new information that deserves additional focus and discussion.

Archaeological and Anthropological Background

Indian mounds have long been part of American history. George Washington used ancient mounds for military positions. Thomas Jefferson excavated a mound (one of many “barrows” in the area) found on his property at Monticello.[5] In 1894, the Smithsonian’s Bureau of Ethnology published a book by Cyrus Thomas that depicted a map of around 100,000 mound sites, located mainly along the rivers of the Midwestern and Southeastern United States. Many of these sites have multiple mound structures, some as many as 100.
One researcher wrote, “After visiting several thousand mounds and reviewing the literature, I am fairly certain that over 1,000,000 mounds once existed and that perhaps 100,000 still exist. Oddly, some new mound sites are discovered each year by archaeological surveys in remote areas.”[6]
This paper will discuss an example of new mound sites found within the last year a few miles north of Nauvoo.
Ancient Native American civilizations that built mounds have been classified into three major cultures based on era and the types of mounds they built.
1. The Archaic period (4500-1000 BCE). There are only a few major examples of earth structures built during the Archaic period, including Watson Brake and Poverty Point in Louisiana.
2. The Woodland period, consisting of Early Woodland (1000 BCE to 200 BCE) (Adena), Middle Woodland (200 BCE-500 CE) (Hopewell) and Late Woodland (500-1000 CE).
            a. Adena. Adena sites are found in the Midwestern and Eastern United States including Wisconsin, Indiana, Ohio, Kentucky, West Virginia, Pennsylvania, Maryland, and New York. Only a few of the hundreds of Adena mounds have survived to the present. Mounds were used for burials, ceremonies, and gathering places. Enon Mound, the second largest conical burial mound in Ohio, is probably Adena. The largest Adena mound in the United States is in Moundsville, West Virginia, along the Ohio River. People tunneled into it in 1838, destroying archaeological evidence.
            b. Hopewell. The Hopewell culture ranged from Florida to southeastern Canada (the Great Lakes area) and east to Kansas. The people lived along the rivers, particularly the Ohio and Mississippi Rivers and their tributaries. They built the giant geometric earthworks found in Ohio, including the Newark Earthworks that are the largest in the world and are aligned to specific sunrise and moonrise events. Hopewell cultures had distinctive regional attributes. Zelph’s mound fits within the Hopewell culture. The Kinderhook mound probably dates to the Adena era, and it reportedly had a conical shape typical of Adena mounds, but there doesn’t appear to be any discussion in the literature about this mound ever being dated or studied.
3. The Mississippian period (900-1450 CE). There is growing evidence of a link between Mesoamerican cultures and the Mississippian cultures, possibly a result of the collapse of the Mayan empire.
People who believe the Book of Mormon took place in North America generally relate the Adena to the Jaredites and the Hopewell to the Nephites.

What Constitutes a Mound

When archaeologists identify a “mound” site, it is usually more significant than merely a pile of dirt created by humans. Mounds varied greatly in size. Some might be a foot high with a circumference of two or three feet. Others may be tens of feet high, covering acres. Monks Mound is ten stories high and covers nearly 14 acres.
Geometric shapes, including squares and circles, are precisely measured and can encompass 20 acres or more. Some mound structures were topped with wooden pickets as defensive walls. Others were covered with cement. Some are shaped as animal effigies. Some follow natural ridges.
Dr. Roger Kennedy, the former director of the Smithsonian's American History Museum, addressed a misperception about earth mounds, noting that earth mounds are actually buildings.

Build and building are also very old words, often used in this text [his book] as they were when the English language was being invented, to denote earthen structures.

About 1150, when the word build was first employed in English, it referred to the construction of an earthen grave. Three hundred and fifty years later, an early use of the term to build up was the description of the process by which King Priam of Troy constructed a “big town of bare earth.” So when we refer to the earthworks of the Ohio and Mississippi Valleys as buildings no one should be surprised.[7]

Literature Review

Painting with a broad brush, literature about the connections between Mormons and mounds can be divided into two categories: those who seek to link Mormonism to the mounds, and those who seek to distance Mormonism from the mounds.
From a purely historical perspective, those linking Mormonism with the mounds seem to have a stronger argument. They rely on original documents and contemporary accounts. This group includes critics of Mormonism as well as supporters.
Those distancing Mormonism from the mounds tend to rely on semantic arguments against original sources or seek to avoid the question altogether.
These different approaches manifest themselves most often in discussion and analysis of the three specific mounds that appear most often in the literature: Zelph’s mound and the Kinderhook mound, both in Illinois, and Enon mound in Ohio. I’ll cite examples after offering an overview of some of the best-known works on Mormon history that address the mound connection.
The most comprehensive analysis of the connections between Mormonism and the mounds is probably Dan Vogel’s 1986 book, Indian Origins and the Book of Mormon: Religious Solutions from Columbus to Joseph Smith (Signature Books). Vogel seeks to understand how the Book of Mormon “fit into the ongoing discussion about the origin and nature of ancient American cultures” (Introduction). His Chapter 4 focuses on the mound-builder myths. He views the Book of Mormon as a product of 19th Century thought and experience.
Fawn Brodie focused on the ancient American mounds, claiming that “The mystery of the Moundbuilders attracted no one more than Joseph Smith.”[8] Earl Wunderli also invoked the moundbuilders to explain the Book of Mormon. “Joseph Smith’s physical surroundings included the Indian burial mounds that people said were piles of slain warriors from antiquity.”[9]
Many supporters of Mormonism tend to downplay the links to the moundbuilders.
For example, in Rough Stone Rolling, Richard Bushman observes that “Indian relics turned up in newly plowed furrows, and remnants of old forts and burial mounds were accessible to the curious, but none was known in Palmyra or Manchester…Burial mounds, supposedly a stimulus for investigation of the Indians, receive only the slightest mention [in the Book of Mormon, Alma 16:11].”[10] He does briefly mention Zelph’s mound and the Kinderhook incident, but he deliberately avoids the debate about mounds and the Book of Mormon. For example, he quotes excerpts from the letter Joseph Smith wrote to Emma on June 4, 1834, from the banks of the Mississippi River during Zion’s Camp, but he omits a key phrase. Joseph wrote of “wandering over the plains of the Nephites, recounting occasionally the history of the Book of Mormon, roving over the mounds of that once beloved people of the Lord, picking up their skulls & their bones, as a proof of its divine authenticity,”[11] but Bushman quotes only “wandering over the plains,” omitting the rest of Joseph’s sentence.[12]
Terryl Givens writes that “A major appeal of the text itself, to both the historically curious and the flippantly cynical, was its claim to tell the public something about the people whose burial mounds lie scattered across the prairies of the Old Northwest, whose bones and artifacts emerged from the dust with provocative regularity…. Once the Book of Mormon is cast in these terms, by angels, prophets, editors, and satirists, the historical approach becomes double-edged, an irresistible tool of apologists and detractors alike.”[13]
Most articles focus on the two best-known mound-related topics: Kinderhook and Zelph.
J. Michael Hunter introduced his article about Mormon archaeological zeal by writing “In 1843, Robert Wiley unearthed a set of six brass plates in a burial mound near Kinderhook, Illinois.”[14] Several authors have written and presented on the topic of the Kinderhook plates, including Mark Ashurst-McGee, Don Bradley, Brian M. Hauglid, and Jason Frederick Peters. In 1981, the Ensign published an article that took the positions that (i) the Kinderhook plates were a hoax and (ii) Joseph Smith never attempted to translate them.[15]
Zelph’s mound in Illinois was first reported in the journals of participants in Zion’s Camp. Their accounts were amalgamated for an entry in History of the Church, but they have been reassessed individually. Kenneth Godfrey argued that the accounts “are inconsistent” and the skeleton “cannot, therefore, provide conclusive evidence for anything.”[16] Donald Q. Cannon provided greater context for the incident by referring to additional corroborating statements by Joseph Smith’s contemporaries as well as evidence from the archaeological and anthropological studies of the area, noting that “Some of the fabric recovered from the archaeological digs conducted at the bluff dates between 100 BC and AD 400… Remarkably, items discovered in the Zelph Mound area fit precisely within the parameters of the Book of Mormon historical chronology.”[17]
John H. Wittorf addressed Kinderhook and Zelph, but also treated Enon mound. Wittorf concluded that “in only one of three cases where Joseph Smith encountered the remains of the “Mound Builders”—the “Zelph incident”— did he even suggest a relationship between these peoples and those described in the Book of Mormon, the exact nature of which however, is still uncertain.” [18]
The Enon mound incident may not be well known. On May 16, 1834, Zion’s camp was in Ohio, traveling between Springfield and Dayton. Joseph’s journal records

About nine o’clock . . . we came into a piece of thick woods of recent growth, where I told them that I felt much depressed in spirit and lonesome, and that there had been a great deal of bloodshed in that place, remarking that whenever a man of God is in a place where many have been killed, he will feel lonesome and unpleasant, and his spirits will sink.

In about forty rods from where I made this observation we came through the woods, and saw a large farm, and there near the road on our left, was a mound sixty feet high, containing human bones. The mound was covered with apple trees, and surrounded with oat fields, the ground being level for some distance around.[19]

The large mound Joseph referred to was the Enon mound, located about seven miles west of Springfield. The mound still stands today in the town of Enon. It has been identified as an Adena mound, based on its size and shape, as well as artifacts retrieved from it.
Wittorf notes a hearsay account of an old gentleman who dug into the mound and deposited a collection of artifacts. He also suggests the dead men Joseph referred to could have been Shawnees killed in the battle of Piqua in August 1870. Piqua was about five miles west of Springfield.
Levi Hancock, who accompanied Joseph on the Zion’s Camp march, provided the most detailed account of the Zelph incident in his journal. Joseph’s statement about Zelph prompted him to also record what had happened at Enon.  “I then remembered what he [Joseph Smith] had said a few days before while passing many mounds on our way that was left of us; said he, ‘there are the bodies of wicked men who have died and are angry at us: if they can take advantage of us they will, for if we live they will have no hope.’ I could not comprehend it but supposed it was all right.”[20]
Because Hancock connected Zelph with the Enon mound statement, he apparently inferred that Joseph Smith was relating both mounds to Book of Mormon peoples. Or Joseph may have made this connection explicit. It was just a few days later that Joseph wrote his letter telling Emma that he and his men had been “wandering over the plains of the Nephites… roving over the mounds of that once beloved people of the Lord, picking up their skulls & their bones.” 

Mormon Connections with Native American Indian Mounds

This paper does not assess the historical and cultural context of the Mound-builder tradition and whatever relationship it may have to Mormonism. Instead, it looks at specific examples that have not been covered in depth in the literature to suggest possibilities for additional research.
The 116 pages. In the summer of 1828, Martin Harris lost the first 116 pages of the manuscript Joseph Smith dictated. Little is known about the manuscript, except that it constituted Mormon’s abridgment of the Book of Lehi and it covered essentially the same history as the current books of 1 Nephi through Words of Mormon. The 116 pages were reportedly burned or stolen; at any rate, they have not been recovered so far.
One account suggests the 116 pages described the mounds in North America. W. R. Hine was a resident of Colesville, New York. He provided a statement in 1884 in which he claims he knew Joseph Smith and his father. He relates a version of the lost 116 pages that has Lucy Harris taking the 116 pages and giving them to a Dr. Seymour, who lived not far from Mr. Hine. Hine stated, “Dr. Seymour lived one and a half miles from me. He read most of it to me when my daughter Irene was born; he read them to his patients about the country. It was a description of the mounds about the country and similar to the ‘Book of Mormon.’”[21]
The current text of the Book of Mormon does not mention mounds. It refers to bodies being “heap up upon the face of the earth” in several places. Alma 50:1 says Moroni caused his people “that they should commence in digging up heaps of earth round about all the cities.” If Hines was correct that the 116 pages included “a description of the mounds about the country,” the lost manuscript would link the text more closely to the North American setting than does the current text. This would further support the claims of both critics and defenders who link the Book of Mormon to the Moundbuilders.
Joseph Smith’s 1843 sermon. On April 16, 1843, Joseph Smith’s journal relates that he gave a sermon at the temple at 10 a.m. He read a letter about the death of Lorenzo Barns and discussed the topic of burial.

it is to have the privilige [sic] of having our dead buried on the land where god has appointed to gather his saints together.--- & where there will be nothing but saints, where they may have the privilege of laying their bodies where the Son will make his appearance. & where they may hear the. sound of the trump that shall call them forth to behold him, that in the morn of the resurrection they may come forth in a body. & come right up out of their graves, & strike hands immediately in eternal glory & felicity rather than to be scattered thousands of miles apart. There is something good & sacred to me in this thing. the place where a man is buried has been sacred to me.--this subject is made mention of In Book of Mormon & Scriptures. to the aborigines regard the burying places of their fathers is more sacred than any thing else.[22] (emphasis added)

The portion in bold is of interest for two reasons. First, there is no place in the current Book of Mormon that mentions that the place where a man is buried is sacred. Joseph seems to be recalling a passage from the lost 116 pages, which, in his mind, were part of the Book of Mormon he translated.
Second, the sacred nature of a burial place is the basic premise for Native American Indian reverence for the burial mounds. Joseph alludes to this in the next passage when he refers to the “aborigines,” whom he considered Lamanites. This sermon may be a direct link between the 116 pages and the Native American Indian mounds.
The journal is in the handwriting of Willard Richards. He apparently inserted the phrase “this subject is made mention of” after he wrote the main phrase, probably when he found a moment to catch up with what Joseph was saying.

Mounds in Nauvoo. There are several references to mounds in Nauvoo. The lithograph by John Childs, 1844, made from a plat by Gustavus Hills in 1842 depicts several mounds in the city. A prominent one is between plats 82 and 83, just west of the temple.

Joseph’s journal records a few interactions with mounds in and around Nauvoo, including these.

14 June 1842 • Tuesday
Tuesday 14 To the mound with Emma & purchasd 3/4 Sections of Land  of
Hiram Kimball [note 245][23]

Note 245: JS purchased the southwest quarter of Section 25, the southeast quarter of Section 26, and the northeast quarter of Section 35, within Township 7 North, Range 8 West, for $1,500 from Ethan Kimball of Orange County, Vermont. Hiram Kimball served as Ethan Kimball’s attorney in the transaction. The “mound” was located in the southwest quarter of Section 25. JS paid Kimball two weeks later. (Hancock Co., IL, Deed Records, 27 June 1842, vol. K, pp. 329–330, microfilm 954,599, U.S. and Canada Record Collection, FHL; JS, Journal, 27 June 1842.)

27 June 1842 • Monday
Monday 27 Transacting business in general through the day. borrowed money of Bros.  Wooley Spencer &c. & made payment To Hiram Kimball for the mound.

Mounds in Nauvoo. In recent years, more Hopewell mound complexes have been discovered just north of Nauvoo. Some were looted in the 1970s, but others have been found untouched.
Wilson and Jenny Curlee moved to Nauvoo and purchased the property on which the mounds were located.[24] They organized an Eagle Scout project to restore some of the looted mounds, and archaeologists from the Illinois Historic Preservation Agency have certified these as authentic ancient sites. In the fall of 2016, a new complex was discovered in the area.
The increasing awareness of the numerous Hopewell mounds in the Nauvoo area may give renewed attention to the connection between Mormons and the mounds. When workers dug a utility trench between the Red Brick Store and the Joseph Smith Homestead, the equipment churned up Hopewell bones and artifacts. This area is adjacent to the Smith Family Cemetery, leading to the possibility that Joseph Smith, his wife Emma, his brother Hyrum and his parents are buried in a Hopewell burial site.
If “Mormonism sprang from the mounds” as Roger Kennedy suggested, it seems only fitting that Joseph Smith would be buried among the Moundbuilders.


The connections between Mormonism and the Moundbuilders have received considerable attention, but mainly from outsiders and critics. It is time for historians to re-assess these connections, especially in light of recent discoveries about Hopewell mounds in the Nauvoo area.

[1] Cahokia Mounds State Historic Site, World Heritage List, UNESCO,
[2] Elm Point Mound, 23SC58, St. Louis Community College,
[3] DeWitt Clinton, “A Memoir on the Antiquities of the Western parts of the State of New-York,” Transactions of the Literary and Philosophical Society of New York 2 (1815-25): 82
[4] Matthew Graham, “Ancient History,” Missourian, Jul 22, 2008, online at
[5] Jefferson’s Excavation of an Indian Burial Mound, Thomas Jefferson Foundation, Inc., online at
[6] Little, Gregory L., Ed.D., The Illustrated Encyclopedia of Native American Mounds & Earthworks (Eagle Wing Books, 2009), p. 2.
[7] Kennedy, Roger G., Hidden Cities: The Discovery and Loss of Ancient North American Civilization (The Free Press, New York, 1994), p. vii. (hereafter Hidden Cities)
[8] Brodie, Fawn M., No Man Knows My History, 2d Ed. (Vintage Books, New York: 1995), p. 35.
[9] Wunderli, Earl, An Imperfect Book: What the Book of Mormon tell us about itself (Signature Books, Salt Lake City: 2013), p. 320.
[10] Bushman, Richard, Rough Stone Rolling (Alfred A Knopf, New York: 2005), pp. 95, 97.
[11] Smith, Joseph, “Letter to Emma Smith,” 4 June 1834, Letterbook 2, p. 57, online at
[12] Bushman, p. 241.
[13] Givens, Terryl, By the Hand of Mormon (Oxford University Press, Oxford: 2002), pp. 93, 95-6.
[14] Hunter, J. Michael, “The Kinderhook Plates, the Tucson Artifacts, and Mormon Archaeological Zeal,” Journal of Mormon History, Vol. 31, No. 1 (Spring 2005), p. 31.
[15] Kimball, Stanley B., “Kinderhook Plates Brought to Joseph Smith Appear to be a Nineteenth-Century Hoax,” Ensign, August 1981, online at
[16] Godfrey, Kenneth W., “What Is the Significance of Zelph in the Study of Book of Mormon Geography?” Journal of Book of Mormon Studies, 8/ 2 (1999): 70-79, 88. Online at
[17] Cannon, Donald Q., “Zelph Revisited,” Church History Regional Studies, BYU Department of Church History and Doctrine, Regional Studies, Illinois, 97-109. Online at
[18] Wittorf, John H., “Joseph Smith and the Prehistoric Mound-Builders of Eastern North America,” delivered at the Nineteenth Annual Symposium on the Archaeology of the Scriptures at BYU on October 18, 1969, online at
[19] History, 1838-1856, volume A – 1 [23 December 1805 – 30 August 1834], p. 7, online at
[20] Quoted in Cannon, Zelph Revisited.
[21] W. R. Hine’s Statement, in Naked Truths about Mormonism (Deming & Co., Oakland, 1888), online at
[22] Journal, December 1842-June 1844; Book 2, 10 March 1843-14 July 1843, p. 141. Online at
[24] Palmer, Rosemary G., “Why Do Nauvoo’s Historic Burial Mounds Matter?” Meridian Magazine, June 9, 2013, online at