The Meaning of the Word Manti
The name Manti has a good match from the Chicago Demotic Dictionary. For meaning, it means porter, doorkeeper, or night watchman. Evidently Manti may have been a strategic location to prevent intruders from entering a portion of the western portions of the Nephite lands.
The Location of the City Manti
There should be no question as to the location of the Book of Mormon city of Manti. Those early individuals who participated in Zion’s Camp were told when they passed through this particular location in Missouri that they were passing through the ancient Book of Mormon city of Manti. Now it is true that the record given here does not specifically state who claimed it was the ancient city of Manti. Yet from the writings it should be concluded that they knew this to be the case. Most likely Joseph Smith told them.
Joseph Fielding Smith records in the book Doctrines of Salvation Volume 3 on page 239 as follows:
Ancient City of Manti in Missouri. The following is also taken from the history of the travels of the Kirtland Camp: “The camp passed through Huntsville, in Randolph County, which has been appointed as one of the stakes of Zion, and is the ancient site of the City of Manti, and pitched tents at Dark Creek, Salt Licks, seventeen miles. It was reported to the camp that one hundred and ten men had volunteered from Randolph and gone to Far West to settle difficulties.”
The following account of the same event is taken from the daily journal of the Kirtland Camp, and was written by Samuel D. Tyler: “September 25, 1838. We passed through Huntsville, Co. seat of Randolph Co. Pop. 450, and three miles further we bought 32 bu. of corn off one of the brethren who resides in this place. There are several of the brethren round about here and this is the ancient site of the City of Manti, which is spoken of in the Book of Mormon and this is appointed one of the stakes of Zion, and it is in Randolph County, Missouri, three miles west of the county seat.
On December 15, 2021, I was passing through Centralia, Missouri and contacted my friend Lloyd Marchant who lives in the area. For years he has believed that he lives near the ancient City of Manti; however, he was never able to find any remnants of it. He picked me up and we did some exploring a few miles west of Huntsville, Missouri. We drove around a bit and then I saw a bunch of really long berms that were about 5 feet tall. We stopped and looked around. I tried to get permission from the land owner by knocking on the door of the only property on the site. No one was home. So I took the liberties to do a little bit of walking on the tops of the berms and taking some pictures. We also stopped at a wooded section next to the river where the area has the appearance of being full of smaller burial mounds. I am being sketchy on the details of the exact location intentionally. Nevertheless, the photos given here are those berms which currently are about 5 feet tall.
The claim here is not scientific. Nevertheless, in the area that is very consistent with the writings from these persons participating in Zion’s Camp, I find what appear to be the remains of ancient defensive berm structures. These berms would have been fortified after the manner of Captain Moroni – see Alma 50:1-4.