170 years ago today - Jan 28, 1849
Manchester N.Y., resident Lorenzo Saunders deeds about forty-eight acres of his land to Amos Miner. The land contains a hill and cave which was dug by a "money-digging" party under the guidance of Joseph Smith. Miner's heirs hold the property for three generations. Grandson Wallace Miner tells Brigham Young University professor M. Wilford Poulson in 1932, "He [Smith] dug a 40 ft. cave right on this vary farm. . . . He dug in about 20 ft. and the angel told him this was not holy ground, but to move south [to Cumorah]. Martin Harris stayed at this home when I was about 13 yrs. of age [ca. 1856] and I used to go over to the diggings about 100 rods or a little less S.E. [southeast] of this house. It is near a clump of bushes. Martin Harris regarded it as fully as sacred as the Mormon Hill diggings." In 1867 Palmyra resident and childhood acquaintance of Joseph Smith Pomeroy Tucker reports "[f]rom the lapse of time and natural causes the cave has been closed for years, very little mark of its former existence remaining to be seen." In 1893, a reporter from the NEW YORK HERALD, accompanied by Orson Saunders and John H. Gilbert (type setter for the Book of Mormon), visited the cave and reported that "[t]he door jambs leading into the cave are still sound and partly visible, but the earth has been washed down by storms and the opening to the cave nearly filled, so that it cannot be entered at present. The cave remained closed until Apr 1974 when Andrew H. Kommer, owner of the property, cleared the cave's opening with a bulldozer. At that time the cave was described as "about six feet high at the largest point in the middle and 10-12 feet long," and "carved into a rock-hard clay hillside. . . . The walls and ceiling of the cave appear to have been dug or picked by hand." Today the entrance of the cave is closed and overgrown with foliage. Due to Joseph Smith's association with the hill and cave it is called "Mormon Hill" by local residents and was often confused with nearby "Hill Cumorah" as the place where Joseph got the Gold Plates.