Saturday, March 22, 2014

A Look at Phyllis Carol Olive and Her Great Lakes Model – Part III

Continuing from the last post with Phyllis Carol Olive’s book The Lost lands of the Book of Mormon, in which she makes several comments that obviously need a scriptural reference check, since they have a lot to do with her description of the Great Lakes as the Book of Mormon Land of Promise, and not particularly what the scriptural record actually tells us.   
   Olive’s Comment: Even though Hagoth’s ship was described as being exceedingly large it would in no way compare to anything we might consider a large ship today, but was simply a ship considerably larger than those that were the norm for the time.”
(Image A – An exceedingly large ship being built anciently. Modern men try to lessen the abilities of the ancients, but such curious craftsmen have existed in all ages
    Response: The word large is a relative term. Large compared to what? However, we might assume that large in this sense meant as large as, or larger than, other ships of the day—and “exceedingly large” meant much larger than anything they had seen up to that point. This, then, suggests that there had been shipbuilders before Hagoth, and he was not the first to initiate land-to-land shipping. It may well have been going on for some time. What is noted by the Hagoth story, is that he built a different kind of ship than the others—we know it was exceedingly large, which should suggest something out of the ordinary, and we know it was meant to carry immigrant families, along with supplies and equipment to settle in a new land.
A 100-foot ship being built which dwarfs all the other small boats on the beach
    Immigration, it would appear, was the issue and the fact that Hagoth built a very large ship meant to transport large numbers of people to a far off land, launching into the West Sea (Ocean) where deep water waves pounding on the hull and high winds hammering the vessel would require someone like Hagoth, a shipwright extroadinarie to build such “curious” vessels—that is, highly skilled construction.
Left: The Mayflower that brought the pilgrims to Plymouth in 1607; Right: Drake's Golden Hind which sailed around the world in 1577
    The Mayflower, as an example, a ship of 180 tons, about 100 feet long and 25 feet wide, that carried a crew and passengers of about 152 people, along with a large amount of ship’s stores, tools and weapons, including 12 cannon, shot and gunpowder, for the voyage. On that voyage huge waves struck the ship’s topside until a structural support timber fractured and they survived only because the passengers carried equipment to construct homes when they landed. By comparison, Sir Frances Drake's ship, the Golden Hind, which was meant for exploring, not passengers, was 102 feet in hull length and 22 feet in width, with 22 guns and canon and a maximum crew of 95.
    Obviously, sailing in deep water was dangerous and it is just as obvious that Hagoth built ships that could withstand deep water where earlier ship builders probably only built coastal vessels. Certainly, this would have made his shipbuilding effort worth mentioning by Mormon, for these ships went north to “a land which was northward,” and also elsewhere, to an unknown location, and no further word was known from them (Alma 63:8). However, the significance of this singling out of Hagoth’s ship seems lost on Olive.
    As an example, the word ship in 1828 New England meant: “In a general sense, a vessel or building of a peculiar structure, adapted to navigation, or floating on water by means of sails. In an appropriate sense, a building of a structure or form fitted for navigation, furnished with a bowsprit and three masts, a main-mast, a fore-mast and a mizen-mast, each of which is composed a lower-mast, a top-mast and top-gallant-mast, and square rigged”—this pretty much describes the “Mayflower” shown above.
    The point is, this term as used by Joseph Smith, would have meant a ship of some size built along certain lines with sails, etc. Compare that to Olive’s later comment:
    Olive’s Comment: “Most ships traveling th4 waterways in early American history were made of bark and were small enough to maneuver the rivers and creeks with east…”
    Response: A canoe is simply not a ship, is never in any historical report or writing called a “ship,” and certainly would not be capable o carrying a large number of people. What Olive seems not to know is that the maritime world, and the dictionary anciently as today, separate vessels by size and usage, each with its own class name. A ship in Joseph Smith’s day described a very particular vessel (see above).
    Olive’s Comment: “Still others were made from heavier materials such as logs which were lashed together to make flat rafts…”
Left: Depiction of an early log raft with a small cabin; Right: the keel boat which followed, carried more freight and moved downriver with punt poles
    Response: Again, a raft is not a ship and has never been called or referred to or considered a “ship,” not even the more sturdy keep boats were called ships.
    Olive’s Comment: “The boats used to transport furs to various trading posts were the largest of the bark canoes and often carried tons of freight, crew and passengers…”
This painting depicting the large trading canoes of early America shows 17 people in the canoe; however, the largest of the birch bark trading canoes carried only 12 along with 2 ½ tons of cargo. Obviously, these were never called ships
    Response: Actually, during the Coureurs de Bois (runners of the woods)—the fur trade business, or the expansion of the fur trade markets, the canoes became famous because of the voyageurs (hired fur traders) who were trading fur in North America. From 1690 up to 1850, the voyageurs, as well as the canoe, played a very important role in the early American history as the canoe was the principal means of transportation on water. The birch bark canoes were boats created by the North American Indians. It was made from a frame of wooden ribs covered with the bark of birch trees. This type of canoe proved to be the best solution for a long journey: waterproof, resilient and light enough to be easily transported on one’s shoulders across a portage. These boats were capable to carry a crew of up to 12 people and 2400 kilograms of cargo, which is 5280 pounds, or just over 2 ½ ton. Olive’s “Tons of freight” is a poor definition of 2 ½ ton and is a disingenuous expression—in no way would the largest of these trading canoes be able to meet the description of Hagoth’s ships and their immigrant cargo. Nor were they ever called ships.
    Nor were the big packet boats that moved along the Erie Canal ever called ships, though they were the largest of the freight boats in early America.
Top: The 363-mile long Erie Canal built in 1817-1825 to carry freight (center) and transport (bottom), helped New York eclipse Philadelphia as the largest city and port on the Eastern Seaboard of the U.S. These barges (or packet boats) were 60-80 feet long and 14 feet wide (about 2/3 the size of the Mayflower)
(See the next post, “A Look at Phyllis Carol Olive and Her Great Lakes Model-Part IV,” for more of Olive’s statements that are not supported by the scriptural record, and do not match the descriptions of the Land of Promise as we have them)

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