Zelph’s Mound | Joseph Smith Zion’s Camp Expedition 1834
Zelph’s Mound (Naples-Russel Mound no. 8) | Pike County, IL - Near Griggsville  Zelph’s Mound was a Native American burial mound that gained infamy through its “Discovery” and desecration by members of Joseph Smith Zion Camp Expedition during 1834.  While traveling across the Illinois River Valley near present day Griggsville, men from Smith’s camp came across a burial mound on a bluff overlooking the Illinois River.  They unearthed a large skeleton and arrowhead from the mound approximately 1 foot below the surface. The men then informed Smith of the discovery. Smith himself wrote nothing about the event; however, seven of the members of Zion's Camp who were with him either recorded or orally related their accounts of what he said. These accounts declared that the bones were from Zelph, a “white Lamanite” general who was a righteous man. A reference to this event is made in E.D. Howe’s book Mormonism Unvailed, which states:  “A large mound was one day discovered, upon which Gen. Smith ordered an excavation to be made into it; and about one foot from the top of the ground, the bones of a human skeleton were found, which were carefully laid out upon a board, when Smith made a speech, prophesying or declaring that they were the remains of a celebrated General among the Nephites, mentioning his name and the battle in which he was slain, some 1500 years ago.” The mound is available to be seen access of a rural road, and a short hike through the woods to the mound. A Boy Scout project several years ago made a sign to mark the direction and location of the mound. Today, members of the Mormon faith often make trips to the site to see the place where Smith had his revelation.  Shopping on Amazon through the links below helps support History in the Heartland and our efforts to document History through America's Midwest!

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