Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Elder Landon West

A native of Ohio, Landon West studied at the New Vienna Academy operated by James Quinter and taught public school for several years. He was called to the ministry in 1864, the same year he was married at the age of 23.

Although progressive in many ways, Landon West remained with the German Baptist Church (Church of the Brethren) in the 1881-83 division. He was a strong advocate of the Sunday school movement and mission work among blacks in southern Ohio.

Poor health forced Landon West to end his extensive travel and preaching around 1887 although he continued his writing, including frequent contributions to church periodicals. In 1900 the family moved to Miami County, Ohio near Pleasant Hill. He had eight children, among them his son Dan West.

Among his many writings, perhaps his most original work was "Eden's Land and Garden with Their Marks Yet to be Seen" (1908). He received wide recognition for his carefully presented theory that the Great Serpent Mound near his boyhood home in Adams County was the site of the biblical Garden of Eden.

West's theory differed markedly from the notions of archeologists who visited Serpent Mound after it was first surveyed in 1849. The mound is about one thousand feet long, in the form of a serpent whose bent body and curled tail extend along a hilltop. The serpent's jaws are opened wide as if ready to devour an oval shaped object.

West believed that the mound was created by the hand of God as a lesson to the world, that its forms were symbols of Satan and of the forbidden fruit with which the serpent tempted Eve. West is reported to have said, "This figure is the most ancient record of history known to exist. It shows first sin and its immediate results as Moses also records them.... [It] supports the written or inspired history of the human race."

According to archeologists, Serpent Mound is one of many "effigy" mounds built by American Indians around 1000 BC. Some were used for burial purposes; others may have been intended for religious rituals.

Source: The Brethren Encyclopedia