Hill Cumorah, Where Mormonism Began
(Palmyra, New York)
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."
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.
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
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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
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Hill Cumorah: Where Mormonism Began