Monday, June 1, 2015

Theories—The problem with Speculation – PtII

Continuing from the last post about Vernal Holley’s speculation on the names of surrounding towns in New York, Pennsylvania, Ohio, and Canada, that existed when Joseph Smith was translating the plates leads to a unique comparison. However, as was shown in the last post, the names covered had no connection at all. Here we continue with Holley’s list:
We see the Book of Mormon city Kishkumen, named after the Gadianton Robber (left), located near an area named, on modern maps, as Kiskiminetas, the latter being the name of a small 27-mile long tributary river to the Allegheny River in western Pennsylvania, though it is typically refered to as the Kiski, and the area as Alle-Kiski, “Valley after the rivers.” It is claimed that the name is "corrupted from Gieschgumanito, signifying, make daylight. In this case, the etymology is: Gisch-gu—day; gisch-que—today; gieschapen—it is daybreak; manitoon—to make. It was probably the word of command, given by a warrior to his comrades at night to break up camp and resume the journey, or war-path. A town nearby is named after the river, and founded in 1773; however, it is a small township and tributary more than 225 miles from Palmyra and unlikely Joseph Smith would have heard of it prior to 1830.
    Another so-called connection is between Rama and Ramah. Rama, in Canada, now called Ramar, along the eastern shore of Lake Simcoe, which is north of Lake Ontario. The community was first named in 1820 by Lieutenant-Governor Sir Peregrine Maitland. Since the entire Lake Ontarior lies between Palmyra and Rama, and no direct communication or travel routes existed between the two areas at the time, it is unlikely Joseph Smith would have known of this little township.
    An additional Canadian township named Moraviantown, on the north side of Lake Erie, is supposedly connected to the name of Morianton in the same area. The Moravian was an Indian tribe of the Thames First Nation.
The Battle of the Thames during the War of 1812, in which the Shawnee chief, Tecumseh, was killed (see last post) took place at Moraviantown. Though Moraviantown is 275 miles from Palmyra, because of the war, it is possible Joseph Smith might have heard of this name.
    Still another Canadian township is Sherbrooke along the confluence of the Saint-Francois and Magog rivers. Originally known as Hyatt’s Mill, the small village was renamed in 1818 for Sr. John Coape Sherbrooke, a British General who was Lieutenant Governor of Nova Scotia, and Governor General of British North America. It did not grow until 1852 when a railway line was built.
    Another Canadian match is claimed to be the Hill Ephraim and St. Ephram, which is actually Saint-Ephrem-de-Beauce, a community that was created and named during the breakup of Tring in 1866, and got its name from Ephrem the Syrian, a Roman Catholic theologian of the Syriac Orthodox Church. Another inaccurate connection with the Book of Mormon.
    A further claimed connection is between Shiloh, Pennsylvania and Shilom in the Book of Mormon. Shiloh is a West Manchester Township in York County, Pennsylvania, along the Maryland border, 250 miles almost due south of Palmyra. The small village of Shiloh was first settled after the War of 1812 between 1816 and 1825, when there were about 20 families. It did not really grow until about 1850. Again, it is not likely Joseph Smith would have known about the name of a town 250 miles away that had 20 families in it while he was translating the plates.
    Mantua Township was part of the Connecticut Western Reserve (Connecticut’s western claims), which was settled in 1796 when it became part of the Northwest Territory in 1800, and ceded to Ohio in 1803, when the latter became a state. In 1805 Oliver and Rosetta Snow immigrated to Mantua from Becket, Massachusetts, and met Joseph Smith in the 1830s and were converted to the LDS Church. Their son, Lorenzo, was born in Mantua and became the fifth president of the Church. This is one of the only very strong connections between these places and the early Church. Whether or not one can get Manti from Mantua, is another question. As for geography, Mantua was located far from Holley’s proposed area for Manti, which he would have put in New York.
    Monroe and Moroni. The borough of Monroe is surrounded by Monroe Township in Bradford County, Pennsylvania, and was settled in 1828, incorporated in 1855. Originally called Monroeton. There are actually seven different Monroe Townships in Pennsylvania, each in a different county. The one in Bedford County was settled in 1793, incorporated in 1840; the one in Clarion County was settled in 1800, incorporated in 1832; the one in Juaniata County was settled in 1772 and incorporated in 1858; the one in Snyder County was settled in 1794 and incorporated in 1856; the ones in Cumberland and Wyoming counties do not publish their settlement and incorporation dates.
    It seems unlikely, however, that anyone would get the name Moroni out of Monroe.
    Antrim and Antum. Anrim is a Township in Franklin County, South-Central Pennsylvania with its southern border being part of the Mason-Dixon Line, not far from Gettysburg. It was part of the Penn’s Woods land grant and first settled in 1741, by Scotch-Irish from Northern Ireland and Scotland, with the name Antrim chosen from the county in Ireland. Whether or not the name Antrim led to the name Antum is again debatable, but the timing is accurate.
Antioch and Anti-Anti. Besides having several colleges of Antioch University in the surrounding area, there is Antioch, Ohio, a small town along the border of West Virginia, first settled in 1834, after the Book of Mormon was published. How anyone would get Anti-Anti from Antioch is a stretch it would seem, but the point is moot. The name Antioch is from the Turkish word Antakya and later Arabic Antakiya, and Russian Antiokh. The city in Syria was 300 miles north of Jerusalem, and the first Seleucid king was named Antiochus. Anciently, the word anti in Greek meant “like,” i.e., Antipater (like the father).
    Jordan. The small village of Jordan, in Onondaga County, New York, was first settled along the Erie Canal in 1825, and incorporated in 1835. While this is close to Palmyra, it is just as likely the name in the Book of Mormon came from the Jordan River and territory well known to Lehi, Nephi and Sam.
    Minoa and Minon. The tiny village of Minoa is within the town of Manlius, was first settled in the 1820s by a tightly-knit group of German and French immigrants. The town was relatively hidden until the railroad was put through in 1839—however, the name was Manilius Station until the name was changed in 1895 to Minoa.
    Omer and Omner. There is no town, village or settlement called Omer in Ohio, New York or Pennsylvania. There was an Omer, Michigan, settled in the mid-1800s in Bay County, later named Arenac County in 1883. There was a Homer Township in Medina County, Ohio, which was settled in 1833 and called the Village of Homerville.
While some names are similar in spelling or sound, they are not as close as one might first think, and upon studying these names and their dates, locations, and possibility of being known by the prophet are quite unlikely.
(See the next post, “Theories—The problem with Speculation – PtIII,” for more of the so-called city and people names between what we find in the Book of Mormon and what existed in the area of Joseph Smith when he translated the plates to see how speculation leaves the wrong impression about the past)

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