Friday, June 8, 2018

How Important Was the Narrow Pass or Passage? – Part IV Heartland

Continued from the previous post regarding the importance of the Narrow Neck of Land as the only land connection between the Land Northward and the Land Southward, and of the Narrow Pass or Passage that ran through the narrow neck. Below we continue with the Narrow Pass in the North American area and specifically within the Heartland area of the United States. The passes recommended by theorists for #1 Mesoamerica was discussed in the second post, and for #2 the Great Lakes was covered in the last post. Here we take a look at #3, the Heartland claim in this post.
3. The Heartland as the Land of Promise:
Recently we have found a surprising increase in people being interested in the Heartland model of Jonathan Neville, Wayne May, and Rodney L. Meldrum and Bruce H. Porter, who lead numerous tours into the central and eastern region of the U.S., claiming it was the landing area of Lehi and the home of the Jaredites, Nephites and Lamanites.
A basic reproduction of the Heartland Model, showing the locations of their Lehi landing site, land of First Inheritance, the Hill Cumorah and the lands of Bountiful, Zarahemla and Nephi as well as the cities of Nephi, Nauvoo and Zarahemla 

This model also includes the small town in Iowa, about 12 miles north of Keokuk, a mile inland to the west of the Mississippi River and directly across the river from Nauvoo, which Joseph Smith was instructed to call Zarahemla in August 1841, changing the name Iowa Stake to Zarahemla Stake.
    Any discussion of the Heartland Model must include an understanding of the theorists’ placement of this settlement in Iowa and claiming it is the Book of Mormon city of Zarahemla. Thus, an understanding of this settlement and its change in name is essential to understanding Meldrum’s theory and model.
The settlement known as Zarahemla in Iowa (foreground), across the Mississippi River from Nauvoo (background
To begin with, when the Saints were driven out of Missouri, they settled in Illinois and built Nauvoo. Across the Mississippi River from Nauvoo was the territory of Iowa, where many Saints also purchased lands, organizing several settlements, one of which was called Nashville in Lee County, with 20,000 acres adjoining. Another settlement, directly across from Nauvoo began in 1839, “on the uplands about a mile west of the Mississippi River, near Montrose and opposite Nauvoo where the Church had bought an extensive tract of land.”
    This Iowa town was first settled in May 1839, with its site selected by Joseph Smith on July 2, 1839, and later confirmed by revelation, March 1841. A stake, called the Iowa Stake, was organized by Joseph Smith in October, 1839, and by August 1841, the stake had 750 members in nine branches, with three hundred and twenty-six living directly across from Nauvoo. At that time, the name of the stake was changed to Zarahemla Stake. This followed a concern Joseph Smith had about those saints who were driven from Missouri that found refuge across the Mississippi River from Nauvoo in Iowa and not in Illinois.
    One of the reasons for this settlement came from Dr. Isaac Galland, the man who sold the land on which Nauvoo was built, who suggested that the Saints locate in Iowa, which was a territory; because he thought they would be more likely to receive government protection from mobs under the jurisdiction of the United States, than they would be in a state of the Union, ‘where murder, rapine and robbery are admirable traits in the character of a demagogue; and where the greatest villains often reach the highest offices.’ He also wrote to Governor Robert Lucas of Iowa, who had known the ‘Mormon’ people in Ohio, and who spoke very highly of them as good citizens” (Joseph Fielding Smith, Essentials in Church History, Deseret Book, Salt Lake City, 1922, p. 220).
    The Saints in Iowa, having increased the population there from about 2800 to almost 13,000, Joseph decided to inquire for further light and knowledge on the placement of those outside Illinois “to know the Lord’s will concerning the Saints in the Territory of Iowa.”
The reply came in a manner of instruction regarding obedience: “Verily, thus saith the Lord…if those who call themselves by my name and are essaying to be my saints…let them gather themselves together unto the places which I shall appoint unto them by my servant Joseph, and build up cities unto my name, that they may be prepared for that which is in store for a time to come. Let them build up a city unto my name upon the land opposite the city of Nauvoo, and let the name of Zarahemla be named upon it. And let all those who come from the east, and the west, and the north, and the south, that have desires to dwell therein, take up their inheritance in the same, as well as in the city of Nashville, or in the city of Nauvoo, and in all the stakes which I have appointed, saith the Lord” (D&C 125:1-4).
    Clearly, the Lord was looking ahead to when the Saints would gather to the Rocky Mountains a mere five years away, and the Iowa settlement among others in the are were meant only to be temporary. Yet, Meldrum and the Heartland theorists and followers, claim this was a revelation regarding the city of Iowa as being the original site of the city of Zarahemla of the Book of Mormon; however, as can clearly be seen, there is no reason to make such a claim since there is no indication of this being the case in the revelation. In fact, the purpose of the revelation, which subject actually begins in Section 124, appears to be the requiring of the early Saints being obedient to Joseph Smith’s instructions, whether about the name of towns or the locations for settlement. In fact, the revelation in 124 has much about following the prophet, obeying the Lord and those he has called, and that if we hearken to the counsel of the prophets, it will be well with us—there is absolutely no mention of or lead in to Zarahemla of the Book of Mormon.
    It should also be noted that neither Joseph Smith nor any of those involved at the time made any connection or described this town in Iowa as the site of the Nephite Zarahemla. Nor did any of the early or later writings include such connections (Richard E. Bennett, "Montrose, Iowa," in Encyclopedia of Latter-day Saint History, edited by Donald Q. Cannon, Richard O. Cowan, Arnold K. Garr , Deseret Book, Salt Lake City, 2000; Stanley B. Kimball, “Nauvoo West: The Mormons of the Iowa Shore,” Brigham Young University Studies 18, Winter 1978, pp132–142).
    Five months after changing the name from Iowa Stake to Zarahemla Stake, in January 1842, the stake was discontinued and replaced by a single branch. In August of that year, Joseph Smith stayed in the town at his uncle John Smith’s home, and after his and his brother Hyrum’s death, and after the Church moved on to the Salt Lake Valley, in 1846 the city of Montrose absorbed the town of Zarahemla, as stated by the Assistant Church Historian, Andrew Jenson (Encyclopedic History of the Church, Deseret Book, Salt Lake City, 1941, p972).
Early church settlements during and after the Nauvoo period in Illinois, Iowa, Missouri, and one in Nebraska – Yellow Circle shows the area of Zarahemla, Montrose and Nauvoo

In addition, Anthony W. Ivins, both first and second counselors in the First Presidency (1921-1934), stated in Conference Report, April 1829, p16: “There is a great deal of talk about the geography of the Book of Mormon. Where was the land of Zarahemla? Where was the City of Zarahemla? and other geographic matters. It does not make any difference to us. There has never been anything yet set forth that definitely settles that question. So the Church says we are just waiting until we discover the truth. All kinds of theories have been advanced. I have talked with at least half a dozen men that have found the very place where the City of Zarahemla stood, and notwithstanding the fact that they profess to be Book of Mormon students, they vary a thousand miles apart in the places they have located. We do not offer any definite solution. As you study the Book of Mormon keep these things in mind and do not make definite statements concerning things that have not been proven in advance to be true.”
    Also, on this subject, Harold B. Lee stated: “Some say the Hill Cumorah was in southern Mexico (and someone pushed it down still farther) and not in western New York. Well, if the Lord wanted us to know where it was, or where Zarahemla was, he’d have given us latitude and longitude, don’t you think? And why bother our heads trying to discover with archaeological certainty the geographical locations of the cities of the Book of Mormon like Zarahemla?” (Harold B. Lee, “Loyalty,” address to religious educators, 8 July 1966; in Charge to Religious Educators, 2nd ed., Church Educational System and the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, Salt Lake City, 1982, p65).
    The point is, despite the major claims of Meldrum and others, one cannot base a model on a claimed location of the hill Cumorah or a belief of the location of the city of Zarahemla--neither of which does the Church or the Brethren have an official position upon. Our understanding of the geography of the Book of Mormon would have to be based on the scriptural reference, not someone’s opinion of the names used in the early settlements of Illinois.
    This, in and of itself, should call into question the Heartland theory and its model of lands in central and eastern United States, which clearly do not match the scriptural record and Mormon’s descriptions. But first, let us return to the Narrow Neck and Narrow Pass of the Heartland Model.
(See the next post regarding “How Important Was the Narrow Pass or Passage? Part V Heartland Narrow Neck and Pass”)

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