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Hill Cumorah, Where Mormonism Began  (Palmyra, New York)

(Reprint from News: August 10, 2001)

August 9, 2001

 

I spent almost two weeks (12 days, in fact) getting caught up on things at Don and Debbie's house in Syracuse, then hopped in my truck and continued heading west.  If nothing else, I hoped to find some cooler weather.  During the two weeks that I stayed in Syracuse, the daily high temperature hovered consistently between 91 and 102 degrees, and it was as sticky as my grandmother's cinnamon buns.  In fact, after my experience in soupy Tennessee I was starting to refer to Syracuse as "Chattanooga North."  

 

Here's Buster Poindexter singing Hot, Hot, Hot.

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My first stop after leaving steamy Syracuse was in steamy Lyons, New York, a small town in the rolling hills south of Rochester.  Lyons is one of the oldest towns in upstate New York and, as I had learned a few months earlier, was where my great-great-great-grandfather Solomon Myers was born during the late 1700s, which was exactly why I was there.

 

If you've been following my website, you know that I spent some time during July in the Southeast retracing the steps of my great-great-grandfather Ransom Myers, who fought with the Union Army in the Civil War and lost his arm in 1863 (see Ransom Myers).  Solomon was Ransom's father and fought in the War of 1812.  Just after the war, at age 20, Solomon married a 13-year-old girl (dude!), farmed in Lyons for 16 years, then in 1830, moved the whole family west to Michigan, which was where I was heading later that day.  I'd never been to Lyons, so I wanted to spend some time there digging up information on Solomon, which I did, thanks to a local historian named Deborah.

 

As I left Lyons and continued my westerly drive across simmering upstate New York, I thought about how difficult Solomon's journey to Michigan must have been, especially compared to how easy my trip was.  I suppose that's one reason why families didn't move around too much back in those days.  That and no Happy Meals.

 

An hour later, as the thermometer topped 100 degrees, I stopped in Palmyra, New York, which was the home of Mormon founder, Joseph Smith, back in the early 1800s.  I was expecting to see throngs of visitors at this historic site, but the empty parking lot here made it clear that the Mormons are as unpopular in New York now as when Smith and his polygamist band were kicked out back in 1830.  Ironically, that was the same year that Solomon Myers and his family left this area for Michigan, but to my knowledge, there aren't any polygamists in my family.  Nope... just old guys who marry 13-year-old girls.

 

      

Above left:  My first stop after leaving Syracuse was here in Lyons, New York, about an hour away.  This is the original Erie Canal, finished in 1825.  The Erie Canal extended across upstate New York, linking the Great Lakes with the Hudson River and New York City.  It made traveling and shipping between the Midwest and the East Coast much easier.  Not surprisingly, New York City's population exploded after the canal was completed.

Above center:  My great-great-great-grandfather, Solomon Myers, was born in Lyons in the 1790s.  In fact, his family was among the first settlers of upstate New York (think "Last of the Mohicans" and you'll get the idea).  I stopped in the Lyons Courthouse and discovered some old records about Solomon.  Many thanks to Deborah, the local historian.

Above right:  Hot, Hot, Hot.  The two weeks I spent in upstate New York were pretty sweltering.  It's 101 degrees here... and rising.  Driving through here without air-conditioning, like I did, isn't something I'd recommend.

 

       

Above left:  That afternoon, I stopped at a place called Hill Cumorah in Palmyra, New York.  According to the Mormons, this is were Mormon founder Joseph Smith received the Golden Tablets from the Angel Moroni, the son of the Prophet Mormon.  Smith later translated the Golden Tablets into the Book of Mormon.  However, when Smith started practicing polygamy, locals gave him the boot.

Above center:  Apparently, Mormonism still isn't very popular in upstate New York.  I was expecting to see a lot of people at this historic site, but not so. 

Above right:  Finally, some other folks showed up... and probably Mormon, judging from the size of the family.  This is supposedly where Joseph Smith received the Golden Tablets.  Frankly, I was starting to look for the Golden Arches.  For more of my opinions on Mormonism and to find out if they still practice polygamy, see my page on The Mormons.

 

 

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