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In Search of Book of Mormon Geography

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Below is the modern Map of the area of Smith's Youth
The Book of Mormon is supposed to be a history of real people living in a real place. For the first 150 years of Mormonism's existence, everyone thought it was a story about a people who left the Middle East and came to South or Central America, and who fought wars clear up into New York state where their history was hidden in a hillside, inscribed on gold plates. Joseph Smith, in 1830, translated those plates, he said, by "the gift and power of God," into 1611 English from "Reformed Egyptian Hieroglyphics." Or so the story goes.

However, one needs to look no further than New York, Pennsylvania, and Ohio to find the setting of the Book of Mormon. Whoever pieced the Book of Mormon together had a land in mind which was very similar to the Northeast United States and Southeast Canada.

My friend, the late Vernal Holley, originally published these maps in his book Book of Mormon Authorship: A Closer Look in the early 1980s. I was fascinated with them then and remain so today. Basically, the two maps compare a "proposed map" constructed by Vernal from the internal descriptions of the Book of Mormon and comments, over the years by Latter-day Saint scholars, with a map showing actual place names on maps of the area around Palmyra, New York, where the Book of Mormon originally was published. Vernal gave me permission to put the whole book on line. I just need the time to do that. In the meantime I hope you enjoy this.

The first map is the "proposed map," constructed from internal comparisons in the Book of Mormon.

Throughout the Book of Mormon we read of such features as "The Narrow Neck of Land" which was a days and a half's journey (roughly 30 miles) separating two great seas. We read much of the Hill Onidah, the Hill Ramah, and the city of the City of Angola—all place names in the land of Joseph Smith's youth. We read, in the Book of Mormon of the Land of Desolation named for a warrior named Teancum who helped General Moroni fight in the Land of Desolation. In Smith's era, an Indian Chief named Tecumseh fought and died near the narrow neck of land helping the British in the War of 1812. Today the Canadian city Techumseh (near the narrow neck of land) is named after him. We see the Book of Mormon city Kishkumen located near an area named, on modern maps, as Kiskiminetas. There are more than two dozen Book of Mormon names that are the same as or nearly the same as modern geographical locations. See below

Book of Mormon place names compared to actual Northeast US/Southeast Canada place names
Canadian locations are marked with an asterisk and
appear in the Book of Mormon as lying in "The Land Northward"
ACTUAL PLACE NAMES
*Agathe, Saint
Alma
Angola
Antrim
Antioch

Boaz
*Conner
*Ephrem, Saint
Hellam
Jacobsburg

Jerusalem
Jordan
Kishkiminetas
Lehigh
Mantua

Monroe
Minoa
*Moraviantown
*Morin

Noah Lakes
Oneida
Oneida Castle
Omer
*Rama
*Ripple Lake
Sodom
Shiloh
Land of Midian
*Tecumseh/Tenecum

BOOK OF MORMON PLACE NAMES
Ogath
Alma, Valley of
Angola
Antum
Anti-Anti

Boaz
Comner
Ephraim, Hill
Helam
Jacobugath

Jerusalem
Jordan
Kishkumen
Lehi
Manti

Moroni
Minon
Morianton
Moron

Noah, Land of
Onidah
Onidah, Hill
Omner
Ramah
Ripliancum, Waters of
Sidom
Shilom
Land of Midian
Teancum

Copyright 1989, 1992 by Vernal Holley Used by permission.

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