The Hill Cumorah and
 Its Rightful Place in New York


    The Hill Cumorah is just one of 10,000 drumlin hills which fill the plains of western New York just to the south of Lake Ontario. The drumlin hill field of New York constitutes one of the largest concentrations of drumlin hills in the world, with the Palmyra Quadrangle alone showing more than 900 drumlins on a single topography sheet. These small cigar shaped hills would have provided a tremendous advantage for both the Nephites and the Jaredites, for they offered great protection and fortification for their battles.


   The many waters, rivers and fountains filling the area would also have provided an advantage, for waterfowl and fish would have given them much needed sustenance during their four years of preparation for the greatest battle of their lives; one that would decide their ultimate success, or seal up their doom. Animals in the region consisted of deer, black bear, moose, beaver and raccoon, all of which would have provided ample meat to sustain them.

    Any residential structures of the Nephites which may have survived the burning frenzy of the Lamanites as they ravaged the land and killed its people, have long since eroded in the moist northeastern climate—all but traces of the numerous fortifications built in the Nephite’s vain attempt to save their wayward souls. These were built with oak, a hardwood sturdy enough to withstand both the weather and the ages.
    In their own investigation of the area and the ancient works found so prevalent in western New York, the authors McGavin & Bean, in their Geography of the Book of Mormon, p. 65, noted references in E. G. Squire’s Aboriginal Monuments, to his assurance that there are:

    “More than 1000 sites in Ontario, Livingston, Genesee, and Monroe Counties. Nearly 500 sites chartered in Monroe County along. In Genesee Country are over 100 fortified hilltops and strongholds and similar numbers of burial sites, and nearly 50 true mounds. It thus appears that long before the coming of the white man, this region was settled by active and vigorous people. Their villages were along rivers, creeks and lakes. Their camps upon the hills, their fortifications in strategic places difficult to assault. There is not an area of like size in the United States east of the Ohio and north of the Mason Dixon Line where evidence of aboriginal occupation are so abundant.”

    In his Antiquities of the State of New York, E. G. Squire noted that 259 drumlin hills in western New York had been fortified by an ancient people. In nearly every instance the forts had been constructed by some unfailing water source, such as a spring or stream, with guarded passageways leading back and forth. Most were built with high embankments with an exterior ditch, just like those built by Moroni.

Now behold, the Lamanites could not get into their forts of security by any other way save by the entrance, because of the highness of the bank which had been thrown up, and the depth of the ditch which had been dug round about, save it were by the entrance. (Alma 49:18)

    And he, {Teancum, by the orders of Moroni} caused that they should build a breastwork of timbers upon the inner bank of the ditch; and they cast up dirt out of the ditch against the breastwork of timbers; caused that they should commence laboring in digging a ditch round about the land, or the city, Bountiful. (Alma 53:4.)

    Squire’s observation of the fate that overtook these early inhabitants was that “the ancient village was destroyed by enemies and that these are the bones of its occupants who fell in defense of their kindred, and were burned in the fires which consumed their lodges.” [1] He emphasized that in every fortified village the skeletons of the defenders were buried promiscuously, men women and little children, all mixed up together, with many of their skulls fractured as if by a blow. How close he was to the truth without even knowing it, for we read in the Book of Mormon that the Nephites lost the lands of their possessions to the Lamanites, their very own brethren, whose hatred for the Nephites fueled them on to victory. Moreover, their destruction was followed by a burning frenzy.

    And it came to pass that whatsoever lands we had passed by, and the inhabitants thereof were not gathered in, were destroyed by the Lamanites, and their towns, and villages, and cities were burned with fire; and thus three hundred and seventy and nine years passed away {from the time of Christ}. (Mormon 5:5, insert added.)

    Josiah Priest maintained that the forts found in western New York and the land of many waters were made by a race “anterior to that of the present Indians. He went on to say: “We are far from believing the Indians of the present time to be the aborigines of America, but quite contrary, are the usurpers, have by force of bloody warfare exterminated the original inhabitants, taking possession of their country, property and in some instances retaining arts learned of those various nations.” [2]

    E. G. Squire’s books are filled with descriptions of the elaborate preparations that had been made for war by a highly civilized race that once occupied western New York. It was clear to him that “long before the Europeans came to America this region was settled by an active and vigorous people. Their villages were among the rivers, creeks, and lakes, their camps upon the hills, their fortifications in strategic places difficult to assault.” Squire estimated that before their extermination the people of this region were more populous than any extant of territory north of Florida.[3]

   This would, of course, include the Jaredites who lived chiefly in New York’s northern frontier, the land the Nephites would ultimately call Desolation because of the carnage they left behind.

    And they {Limhi’s search party} were lost in the wilderness for the space of many days, yet they were diligent, and found not the land of Zarahemla but returned to this land, having traveled in a land among many waters {Finger Lakes region}, having discovered a land which was covered with bones of men, and of beasts, and was also covered with ruins of buildings of every kind, having discovered a land {called Desolation by the Nephites} which had been peopled with a people who were as numerous as the hosts of Israel. (Mosiah 8:8 inserts added.)

   It has been said that “there is not an area of like size in the United States where evidence of aboriginal occupation is so abundant.” [4] In their research of the histories of each of the counties of western and central New York, McGavin and Bean discovered several hundred pages dedicated to telling the world that western New York was the scene of ancient warfare, the likes of which has not been witnessed elsewhere on the American continent.[5] Thousands of specimens of war were taken to various museums and private collections, with one collection comprising 20,000 items. [6] The flint and copper arrow-points were the most numerous, but axes, large blades, and a variety of well-fashioned tools were also strewn across the region. It is said that there is more evidence of a well planned defensive warfare in New York than any other region of America. [7]


1-McGavin & Bean, The Geography of the Book of Mormon, p. 72.
2-McGavin & Bean, The Geography of the Book of Mormon, p. 75.
3-McGavin & Bean, The Geography of the Book of Mormon, p. 73.
4-McGavin & Bean, The Geography of the Book of Mormon, p. 77.
5-McGavin & Bean, The Geography of the Book of Mormon, p. 79.
6-McGavin & Bean, The Geography of the Book of Mormon, p. 78.
7-McGavin & Bean, The Geography of the Book of Mormon, p. 88.



Copyright © 1998 by Phyllis Carol Olive


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