1923 Celebration of Cumorah/Ramah

BYU Studies has an outstanding article about the 1923 celebration at the Hill Cumorah/Ramah. You can read it here.


The following excerpt shows how Church leaders believed and taught that the hill in western New York was the site of the final battles of the Jaredites and Nephites, just as their predecessors and successors in Church leadership have consistently taught.

Because the Church was still several years away from purchasing the entire Hill Cumorah, conference organizers secured special permission from non–Latter-day Saint Pliny T. Sexton, owner and proprietor of the hill and surrounding farmland, to hold ceremonies on his property.87 The missionaries and members made their way, flags in hand, to the top of the hill while the sun peeked over the eastern horizon. When everyone summited, the appointed “Flag Sergeants” erected America’s national banner. They also raised a unique “Cumorah—Ramah” flag specially designed for the occasion—bisected into two colors, the blue “Cumorah” side bore the hill’s name “as it was known by the Nephites” in bright gold letters. The purple “Ramah” side similarly bore the ancient name of the hill in gold, as it “was known to the Jaredites—the people who first possessed the land.”88 The color guard, led by Elder Elvie H. Yancey, president of the Vermont missionary conference, was composed of a large portion of “former service men” from the recent Great War. They, with everyone, including the President and Apostles, “stood at attention and pledged their allegiance again to their country’s flag.”89 The morning’s flag-raising ceremony was symbolic of the newly emerging Latter-day Saint religious identity; merging explicit American patriotism with an accentuation of Book of Mormon truth-claims, the day’s rhetoric diverged from the political isolationism and biblical parallelisms of the previous century, reinforcing the Church’s twentieth-century push to integrate itself into the American mainstream while still claiming religious distinction.
After breakfast, all conference-goers expecting to return to the Hill Cumorah for the mid-morning meeting instead gathered in the large tents “on account of mud.”90 Following the pattern of thematically addressing specific historical episodes within their original geospatial setting, the speakers recounted the “death struggles” of the ancient Jaredites and later Nephites in the Book of Mormon—struggles that culminated on the hill. A treatment of Joseph Smith’s visits to Cumorah to obtain sacred artifacts followed. Missionaries were given time to share spiritual experiences from the summer campaign. President Grant and Apostles Clawson, Talmage, and Smith spoke for much of the meeting. Group singing opened and closed all such meetings.91

It will be interesting to see what the 200th anniversary will be like. If current trends continue, there will be no mention of Ramah, the final battles of the Jaredites and Nephites, or the repository of Nephite records.


  1. In 1928, why would the church purchase the hill Cumorah near Palmyra, New York if the real hill Cumorah was in southern Mexico or Guatemala? Because it was the same hill where the Jaredites (Ramah) and Nephites (Cumorah) fought their final battles and the same hill where Moroni hid the plates for 14 centuries until they were delivered to Joseph Smith in 1827.

    Oliver Cowdery (during a mission to the Lamanites with Parley P. Pratt, Ziba Peterson, Peter Whitmer Jun. in 1830-31) preached to the Delaware Indians in Indian Territory (present day Kansas). During his speech, Oliver stated, "This Book, which contained these things, was hid in the earth by Moroni, in a hill called by him Cumorah, which hill is now in the State of New York, near the village of Palmyra, in Ontario county. " See History of the Church, Vol 1, p184. How can anyone be confused about the location of the hill Cumorah?


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