Willard joined the Church in 1836 after his cousins, Joseph and Brigham Young, shared a copy of the Book of Mormon with him. Willard served a mission in England, was ordained an Apostle, became a personal secretary to Joseph Smith and later was a counselor in the First Presidency to Brigham Young.
I noticed that on September 22, 1841, while he was on his way to Nauvoo from England, Richards recorded this:
"22 2h PM ascended the summit of Ramah Cumorah. Blessed and ate some cake cheese & dried beef - knelt before the Lord in thanksgiving & prayer. read Cowdery description of Cumorah read description of Lamanites Nephites & Jaredites in book of Mormon. Searched for cave..."
I'll save the rest for another post, but I mention this because of the ongoing effort by M2C advocates to insist the prophets were wrong about the NY Cumorah.
Among other things, they tell us Brigham Young was wrong when he told the Saints that Oliver and Joseph visited the repository of Nephite records in the Hill Cumorah in New York. Although Oliver said they visited multiple times, our M2C friends insist that Oliver must have been referring to a dream or vision of a hill in southern Mexico.
For example, we have this bizarre explanation from FairMormon that is the standard M2C response if you bring up this topic with an M2C adherent:
Here's a fun excerpt with my comments:
There are at least ten second hand accounts describing the story of the cave in Cumorah, however, Joseph Smith himself did not record the incident. This objection is a red herring fallacy. Joseph Smith recorded very little. He didn't even record the restoration of the Melchizedek Priesthood or his receipt of the keys in the Kirtland temple. Does that mean those events did not happen? We have more accounts of the cave in Cumorah than we do of the restoration of the priesthood and the temple keys.
As mentioned previously, the Hill Cumorah located in New York state is a drumlin: this means it is a pile of gravel scraped together by an ancient glacier. This is just fake news. I suspect no one at FairMormon or Book of Mormon Central has ever dug into one of these drumlins as I have. They just found some source that claims these hills are "a pile of gravel" and went with it because it confirmed their M2C bias. And they don't want to hear what I have to say about it.
The dictionary definition of a drumlin is "a low oval mound or small hill, typically one of a group, consisting of compacted boulder clay molded by past glacial action." Also, "The name is derived from the Gaelic word druim (“rounded hill,” or “mound”) and first appeared in 1833." Some drumlins are made up entirely of hard bedrock (e.g. granite or well-lithified limestone). I can tell you from personal experience that the drumlins in western NY are not "a pile of gravel."
The geologic unlikelihood of a cave existing within the hill such as the one described suggests that the experience related by the various witnesses was most likely a vision, or a divine transportation to another locale (as with Nephi's experience in 1 Nephi 11:1). This is my favorite justification for rejecting what Brigham Young and other Church leaders said. It's an armchair M2C scholar trying to justify the theory that Joseph and Oliver were ignorant speculators who were wrong about Cumorah in New York because the "real Cumorah" is in southern Mexico because... because that's what the M2C "internal model" says.
You should go to the link and read the entire quotation. It is literally unbelievable.
Can you imagine a nonmember investigating the Church and reading this stuff? Or a youth in the Church who somehow discovers what the prophets have taught about Cumorah and then reads the crazy justifications for M2C from FairMormon and Book of Mormon Central ?
Contrast the speculations and sophistry of the M2C intellectuals with the real-world experience of Joseph Smith's contemporaries.
Here was Willard Richards, in 1841, reading what Oliver wrote and searching for the cave Oliver described. Willard didn't say what description he was reading. Oliver's Letter VII had been originally published in the Messenger and Advocate in 1835. It was republished in the October 1840 Millennial Star, so Willard may have picked up a copy when he was in England. Letter VII was republished in March 1841 in the Gospel Reflector and in April 1841 in the Times and Seasons. Although Willard was returning from England, he could have obtained a copy of either publication through the mail. Or he may have had another version of Oliver's description.
As we've discussed before, that cave, or room, was empty by 1841. By the time the Saints left New York in 1831, the plates were no longer in the hill Cumorah, but they are not far from there.
Brigham Young told the Saints about this shortly before he died because he feared that otherwise the knowledge would be lost.
Thanks to the efforts of the M2C citation cartel, including our revisionist Church historians, Brigham's fears have become reality.
The knowledge has, in fact, been lost. You won't find it in Saints or any other recent materials.
The few Church members who still know about the New York Cumorah (mainly those who are around age 50 or older) have been taught to believe Brigham was relating a mere dream of a hill somewhere in southern Mexico.
I suspect most of them can tell that FairMormon's explanation is fake news.
That's why the M2C citation cartel and revisionist historians had no alternative but to censor the New York Cumorah everywhere they can.