Monday, November 16, 2020

More Comments from Readers - Part VII

Here are more comments that we have received from readers of this website blog:

“Comment #1: “First, just to clarify, are you saying that the entire Andes mountain range (and the country of Brazil) rose out of the water in three hours? (3 Nephi 8:19) At most there was only three days of changes to the land before the earth did cease to tremble, and the rocks did cease to rend (3 Nephi 10:9) No other changes to the land were significant enough to report, so I'm assuming that’s what you are saying” Tyrusco.

Response: Basically “yes.” We could go into a lengthy explanation as to how mountains are formed, land rises, etc., and that the Lord can speed up or slow down natural processes at his Will, but the point is, it all came up during the short period of time mentioned in 3 Nephi. At this time valleys became mountains “whose height is great.

Comment #2: “You claim Joseph Smith was born in Sharon, Vermont, but I read where he was born in Royalton, Vermont. Why the discrepancy” Brenda C.

Response: In an article in (left) Historical Magazine (Vol VIII, No. 11, Nov 1870, pp315-316), it was reported that Joseph was born in Sharon, Windsor County, Vermont, December 13,1805. Sharon is four miles to the southeast of Royalton, 139 miles northwest of Boston, and 315 miles east of Palmyra, New York.

It should be noted that John L. Bowman, who was formerly a Constable and Collector of Taxes, in Royalton, stated that it was his opinion that the house, lot and buildings of Mr. Smith were actually in Royalton, near the Sharon line, and the farm partly in Sharon. Daniel Woodard, formerly a Judge of the Windsor county Court stated that: “I have recently been upon the ground where Joe Smith first saw the light. The house was upon the top of the high ridge of land between Royalton and Sharon; and the buildings were located in Royalton. It is a beautiful place, in Summer, and is secluded from disturbance by the outside world. Joe's mother was the daughter of Solomon Mack, an infirm man, who used to ride about the country on horseback, using a woman's saddle, or what is termed a 'side-saddle'…The Smith family moved from the old farm, farther into Royalton, about one-half or three-fourths of a mile from my father's, and was living there while our house was building; and Joe came to the raising. I think it was in 1812; and Joe was then about eight years of age."

Joseph Smith, Sr., moved in Royalton, to the Metcalf neighborhood; resided there a few years; and then, with all his family, including the prophet, departed for New York. I well recollect Mr. Mack, of whom Judge Woodard speaks; and his business on horseback was selling an autobiography of himself. I think it is now settled that Joe Smith was born in Royalton, and resided there until the family all removed out of the State.” (article referenced to the Boston Evening Transcript, Sunday, October 2, 1870).

This information was written by Professor Truman H. Safford (1836-1901), a noted astronomer who was then employed at Harvard College in Cambridge, Massachusetts. Safford subsequently composed similar accounts for the Cambridge Chronicle (1872) and the Boston Ladies' Repository (1873). Since Solomon Mack died in 1820 (16 years before Safford's birth), the Transcript correspondent's recollection of "Mr. Mack" was obviously gained second-hand, from old Windsor County residents. Professor Safford was born in the same Vermont county as was Joseph Smith, Jr.

Top: Foundation of the Joseph Smith birthplace, taken in 1894; Bottom: the home memorialized with a 51-foot high obelisk with information and a testimony inscribed


The Smith cabin straddled the line between Sharon and Royalton townships. When Royalton's notable historical figures are mentioned in books and articles, the two men generally share about the same measure of consideration. Safford was born a generation too late to have personally encountered Joseph Smith, Sr. family in New England, so his reporting on that topic consists only of hearsay information.

For more details on the Smith family in Windsor County, Vermont, see the NYC Mormon of July 12, 1856 July 12, 1856, the Danville North Star of March 27, 1874, the Syracuse Sunday Herald of April 9, 1916, and Richard L. Anderson's 1971 book, Joseph Smith's New England Heritage.

As for the children of Joseph Smith, Sr., Alvin, born Feb. 11, 1779—who died Nov. 19, 1824; Hyrum, born Feb. 9, 1800; Sophronia, born May 18, 1803, at Tunbridge, Vermont; Joseph, Jr., born Dec. 23, 1805, at Sharon, Windsor County Vermont; Samuel Harrison, born March 13, 1808, and died July 10, 1844; Ephraim, March 13, 1810, died March 24, 1810; William, born March 13, 1811 at Royalton, Vt.; Catherine, born July 8, 1812, at Lebanon, New York; Don Carlos, born March 25, 1816, at Palmyra, Wayne Co., New York; Lucy, born July 18, 1821, at Palmyra, Wayne Co., New York. In 1805, there were approximately 1600 residents in Royalton and about 1200 in Sharon.

It is obvious that the Smiths considered themselves to be living in Sharon, Vermont, though their farm actually straddled the boundary of two townships at the time, both Sharon and Royalton. It is also understandable that boundaries would not have been so defined in 1800 as they would become years later. Today, Royalton incudes the villages of Royalton, South Royalton and North Royalton, and was first chartered in 1769 by Cadwallander Colden, Royal Lieutenant Governor of New York, and first settled in 1771.

The 1780 British raid on Royalton, Vermont, 25 years before the birth of Joseph Smith


Royalton was re-chartered by the Independent Republic of Vermont on December 20, 1781. The October 16, 1780 British-led Indian raid on Royalton was the last major British raid of the War of Independence in New England, along the White River Valley in the Vermont Republic, which was part of a “terror campaign” conducted by the British with the assistance of 300 Mohawk Indian allies, against the northernmost American settlements in New York, Vermont and New Hampshire, in which the British burned the towns of Royalton, Sharon and Tunbridge, killing cattle, stealing food supplies and capturing several villagers.

Comment #3: “Could you explain John L. Sorenson’s comment regarding King Benjamin’s speech in which Sorenson writes: ‘John L. Sorenson, in his work An Ancient American Setting for the Book of Mormon, states unequivocally: “Under Benjamin, the next king, the non-Nephite masses understood whichever language the Nephite king chose to use for his speech (recorded in Mosiah 2 through 5; see Mosiah 2:6 in particular). That the more numerous “Mulekite” subjects had all learned the language Mosiah brought among them a generation earlier seems highly unlikely. Judging by the history of most contacts of this sort, the less numerous nobility would have made the change, at least in the long run. Later, even when Nephites and Lamanites conversed (as in Alma 17:20-24:30) there is little indication of a language problem or of the use of translators. Perhaps some lingua franca is implied…a knowledge of spoken Hebrew possibly continued among the Nephite rulers for a time, but that such special elite knowledge lasted down to the time of Cumorah is harder to believe. Still, the record’s silence prevents settling the matter’ (p76)’ Wm T.

Response: Sorenson has several things wrong in his comment, not the least of which is his suggestion that when king Benjamin had his speech written down, Sorenson thinks this is because he is having people interpret it for those who speak another language, such as the Mulekites, when it is quite clear in the scriptural record that he wants his words spread beyond the range of those who could hear him (they were too far away). It had nothing to do with interpretation or a different language. This is verified by the written word: “And it came to pass that he began to speak to his people from the tower; “and they could not all hear his words because of the greatness of the multitude; therefore he caused that the words which he spake should be written and sent forth among those that were not under the sound of his voice, that they might also receive his words” (see Mosiah 2:8, emphasis added).

Comment #4: “Interestingly this giant topic also fits very well the "Heartland Theory." There is a lot of archeology that supports this quite well. I came to your site looking to see if others have had the same or similar thoughts and was happy to see corroboration in your writing!” Ylluminate

Response: We have written little about the idea of giant people in times past, and stay away from such topics. That large and mighty men, as Jaredites are described, also fits the description of early landings at Santa Elena, which we think were the Jaredites is as far as we have taken the “large and mighty men.”

On the other hand, the term also applies to the great men of a group. That is, the heroes of a nation were referred to as “large and mighty men.”

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