Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Brandley’s Map – Another Useless Shot in the Dark, Part VII

Brandley tries to tell us that when Joseph Smith wrote “head of the River Sidon,” he actually meant its mouth, and that the word “head” can be used to describe a river’s mouth. However, the facts are a little different:

According to a modern dictionary, the definition of the “head” of a river is: “The head is where it starts and the mouth is where it lets out into a body of water like a lake or ocean.” And according to the “1828 American Dictionary of the English Language,” the language basically known to Joseph Smith at the time he translated the plates, is: “the principal source of a stream, to originate, to spring to have its source, as a river,” and “the part most remote from the mouth or opening into the sea.”

Gravity flow of a River, from higher ground to the sea

First of all, the head of a river has to be on higher ground than the mouth, or otherwise it could not, by gravity, flow from head to mouth. And the head of the Sidon River is SOUTH of Zarahemla, which means that somewhere in the Narrow Strip of Wilderness is a high area of ground and the head of the Sidon River! The trouble is, just about every river in North America basically runs from the north of the south; consequently, those who want a Land of Promise in North America have to find a way to change the scriptural record or the meaning of words regarding the River Sidon.
Brandley also writes: There is a second witness from the text in Alma 50:11 confirming that the head of the river Sidon was by the sea:
“And thus he cut off all the strongholds of the Lamanites in the east wilderness, yea, and also on the west, fortifying the line between the Nephites and the Lamanites, between the land of Zarahemla and the land of Nephi, from the west sea, running by the head of the river Sidon...” (emphasis added).
What Brandley evidently fails to realize is that the Land of Nephi, the Land of Zarahemla, and the Narrow Strip of Wilderness in between, all run from the East Sea to the West Sea, thus, Alma is describing the Sidon River (and its head) being somewhere in between these seas in the Narrow Strip of Wilderness. Again, this is not Brain Surgery. All we have to do is read the words without trying to make them say something they do not!
Brandley adds: “As rivers run to the sea the river Sidon therefore flows from Zarahemla south to the sea.” However, there is no “therefore” about this. The head of the river is to the south, up in the highlands of the Land of Nephi, which demands that the river flowing past Zarahemla to the north has to flow to the north! Just because Brandley wants to make the Mississippi River his Sidon River does not allow him to change the scriptural record stating clearly that the river flows northward.
Yet, undaunted, Brandley goes on to claim “the term “head of the river Sidon” is actually the river delta or “headland” where the river empties into the sea. The word “head” has a different meaning when it relates to lands by the sea. In that case it refers to a promontory or headland that juts out into the sea, such as Hilton Head in South Carolina or Nags Head in North Carolina. A large river forms a delta or a headland where it empties into the sea as the silt carried by the river is deposited there over time.”
As Brandley states: “The word “head” has a different meaning when it relates to lands by the sea.” While that can be true in some cases, it is only true when speaking of land. However, the scriptural point here is the river. The head of a river is at is beginning. The head of land can be where it juts into the sea or ocean, such as a point.
It should also be kept in mind that what words might mean in 2012 is immaterial to what words meant in 1828-29 when Joseph Smith was translating the plates. And English as it was known at that time in England, Canada, etc., is also immaterial to what English words meant in New England at that time. Fortunately, Noah Webster “felt inspired” to create an American Dictionary of the English Language in the early nineteenth century. Webster, having grown up within a hundred miles of where Joseph Smith lived, would have used the words most common and understood by the people of the area at that time. His “1828 American Dictionary of the English Language” is quite clear on the word “headland," which is defined as “a cape; a promontory; a point of land projecting from the shore into the sea, or other expanse of water.”
It is poor commentary by any historian to make such a claim that when Joseph Smith wrote “head” he meant “headland.” It is also obvious that Joseph Smith understood the phrase “head of the river” to mean where the river begins, not where it empties into the sea.
The City of Riverhead along the Peconic River is three miles from the River Mouth in Long Island where it opens into Flanders Bay
Brandley claims that his comment about Joseph Smith thinking “head” meant “headland” is supported, he claims, by the fact that in 1792, 38 years before Joseph interpreted the plate, the New York State Legislature passed a bill creating the town of Riverhead in Suffolk County, New York, on the north shore of Long Island. The name signifies that the mouth of the Peconic River is in this town. The town of Riverhead is situated where the Peconic River flows from the west into Flanders Bay at the east end of Long Island. Joseph Smith, was born and raised in New York where the State law makers considered the mouth of the river to be the head of the river. It is reasonable to assume therefore that Joseph Smith also understood the mouth of the River Sidon to be the “head of the River Sidon.”
At the mouth of the Peconic River where it flows into Flanders Bay are two “headlands,” or points of land that jut out into the Bay: Indian Point and The Point. Both of these are "headlands."
For clarification, Suffolk County is at the extreme northern end of Long Island, and Riverhead is at the end of the Great Peconic Bay inlet, about three miles from Flander’s Bay, and not at any river opening. By comparison, geographically, the town is closer to New London and New Haven in Connecticut than Palmyra in upper New York, some 300 miles away, where Joseph’s home was located.
However, consider that the town of Riverhead is about half way along the Peconic River that flows between Peconic Lake and Flanders Bay, which is the eastern opening of the Great Peconic Bay, that flows into the Little Peconic and later into Gardiners Bay. Granted Riverhead is the last city along this river before it empties into the Bay, but it is still some three miles to the actual river’s mouth. The town of Riverside is also located here, though not along the river itself. Today, the city of Riverhead extends to the mouth of the river, but in 1792, it was three miles away.
If we follow the river to its mouth or opening into Flanders Bay, there are two bodies of land, one to the north and one to the south, both of which are land “heads” or “headlands” that extend into the Bay. The north area is called Indian Point and the one on the south is merely called “The Point.” Both of these are “headlands” and at the mouth of the Peconic River.
Brandley’s comment: “State law makers considered the mouth of the river to be the head of the river,” is so misleading it is difficult to see how any historian could even consider it. There is no state law. It was merely a name given the town when the state split the town of Suffolk in 1792, and just as likely was named "where the river heads into the Bay" as meaning the head of a river, which would have been against the language of the area in that era.

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