Cedars of Lebanon – A Very Special Wood (1/30/2023)

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Irene Tukuafu Reports from the Field on Delivery of Cedars of Lebanon to Iowa.

Many people know Irene Tukuafu who lives in a round log house on the Nauvoo side of the banks of the Mississippi River. This morning she went to the Monk Creek Wood Works Mill in Iowa to inspect the delivery of Lebanon Cedar logs from the Tyler Arboretum in Pennsylvania.

She was the first person to begin working with wood cut from the cedar tree from the birthplace of America. Irene has made hundreds of musical instruments out of fine woods for 35 years. Over these years, she has become an expert in evaluating wood.

Here is a copy of an email that she sent this evening. We offer the email for your review and enjoyment.


Dear John, My impressions for this day. I woke up early as usual and got ready or what I knew was going to be an exciting day. As I started my scripture study, John calls just before 7 A.M.

OF COURSE I’m going to be there midmorning. and sliding down (more slowly then Saturday) my steep driveway ….. I was on the road at 9:30 A.M. (It’s 14 degrees this morning.) It took me about one hour and it’s quite out in the country and it’s beautiful out there.

When I got there, the owner, Dennis Janssen, was closing a big building that holds the BIG SAWS. I walked over to these Cedar of Lebanon logs and took photos. I KNEW I was seeing something very special. The largest collection of Cedar of Lebanon logs in the USA and there’s still 1/3 more logs to come here.

I’ve been making harps and musical instruments since 1988, I reached out and touched these logs. I feel that my very own ancestors saw this tree as I have 3 sets of grandparents that were on the Mayflower when it first landed. And as John told the story that folks used to gather around this ancient tree when it was green and growing to have meetings ………….. who knows but some were my ancestors gathered there over 150 years ago. I’ll find out when I go to the Spirit World and ask them myself. Ha. Needless to say, I’m a tree lover and I’m loving this big tree, even though it’s cut down logs. All wood does its own living after it is cut down. Some wood takes in humidity, some wood breathes differently. Some wood is tight grained and some wood is very open grained. The colors of various woods are without measure. Some wood has more fragrance than others. This Cedar of Lebanon wood has the most beautiful smell of any other wood I’ve smelled in my life!!

John gave me a warped board of this cedar and I had it milled to 2 very thin pieces because I wanted to see the quality of this wood. WOAH, the smell was sooooooooooooo awesome. No wonder Solomon wanted to have the first Temple with this wood inside. I LOVE THIS SMELL. I’ll be making a teardrop dulcimer top with the two good pieces I got from this wood. I’ll use olive wood for the fretboard & scroll head and Koa wood for sides. Koa wood is a variety of Acacia Wood. This dulcimer will be made with only woods that are used in the Bible. So you can see why I was sooooooooooo excited to see this wood for myself. I’ve taken a photo of the teardrop dulcimer and the Cedar of Lebanon wood next to it. I’ll be taking this dulcimer to Hawaii and in a little shop next to the ocean, I’ll be making my “Biblical dulcimer”. I’ve found some Olive wood that I can get while I’m in S.L.C. and I’ll get the koa wood when I’m in Hawaii. Soooooooooooo “stay tuned”. I’ll be coming back with a new dulcimer to play for anyone that wants to hear it.

Aloha, Irene Tukuafu


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Irene Tukuafu at Monk Creek Wood Works Yard with Cedars of Lebanon Logs Delivered this Morning.

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Dennis Janssen. President and Owner of Monk Creek Wood Works in Donalleson, Iowa.

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Cedars of Lebanon at the Phoenicia Ship Museum in Montrose, Iowa.

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HRG History — by Jay Mackley

The Heartland Research Group is a grassroots, boots-on-the-ground organization that believes that the historical narrative of the Book of Mormon took place in the Heartland of North America. The HRG is active in archaeological research and in the acquisition, restoration and display of ancient American artifacts. The HRG is currently preparing an ancient ship replica called the "Phoenicia" for display. The ships construction design is patterned after a shipwreck dating to 600 BC. The Phoenicia ship made modern voyages, first around Africa and then also from the Middle East to Florida in 2019 – proving that voyages around Africa or from Sidon to North America were feasible anciently.

Heartland Research Inc is a 501c3 private operating foundation for archaeological research and to complete preparations for the Phoenicia display. Current plans are for a museum large enough to house the Phoenicia ship and many other ancient artifacts and exhibits from North America. The location of the museum is planned to be in Zarahemla which is Lee County Iowa, near the Mississippi river and east of Nauvoo, Illinois.

Our activities are too many to list, but some recent major expeditions are listed below. Many of these expeditions are open-ended and we expect to continue research in these and other similar activities as time, resources, and volunteers become available. We have dozens of volunteers and hundreds of donors, large and small, but we need many more. Check out the websites listed below for details of Heartland Research Group projects. Our current project is is our biggest yet: to refurbish the Phoenicia ship for display.

Go to the Donation Page

We invite you to support our efforts so we can complete these worthy goals!
If you have skills or knowledge to contribute to our research and discovery projects, please contact us directly to volunteer.

  • What: Sonar scanning of Mississippi between Nauvoo and Keokuk. The purpose of the expedition was to discover a crossing route that ancient people could have taken.
  • Who: Heartland Research Inc volunteers.
  • Where: Between Keokuk and Nauvoo, Iowa.
  • How: Private donations of money, time and equipment.

  • What: Magnetic scanning of 221 acres of farmland near Montrose, Iowa. The purpose of the expedition was the discovery of fire-pits and other evidence of ancient occupation.
  • Who: Members of the Heartland Research Inc, local farmers, volunteers, plus technicians from German company SYNSYS. Signs of habitation were found with magnetometery scanning and then C14 dating.
  • Where: Near Montrose Iowa and between Montrose and Fort Madison Iowa.
  • How: Large and small donations of money, time and equipment.

  • What: A one week seminar in Fort Madison, Iowa with 25+ participants. Included visits to the Putnam museum in Davenport, Iowa. There were twelve presentations on the ancient history and written languages of the upper Mississippi.
  • Who: Members of Heartland Research Inc plus presenters and interested attendees.
  • Where: Fort Madison, Iowa.
  • How: Private donations for space, time and lodging.

  • What: Ground penetrating electrical resistivity scanning for building foundations using electrical resistivity equipment from LandVisor.
  • Who: Members of Heartland Research Inc and volunteers.
  • Where: Zarahemla in Lee County, Iowa.
  • How: Private donations and ground support.

  • What: Metal analysis for alloy content. Ancient arrow and spearhead found in Wisconsin stream of cast bronze.
  • Who: Heartland Research Group
  • Where: Sample found in Wisconsin stream by scuba diver.
  • How: Private donations for lab analysis.

  • What: High resolution LiDAR scanning by supporter Air Data Solutions of 34,000 acres in Lee County, Iowa and also part of Illinois. The focus was to create high quality digital maps showing the terrain of the land, especially in the foothill areas where large earthworks are found. Discovery of 5-10 miles of ancient earthworks from LiDAR using QGIS and ArcGIS visualization software.
  • Who: Members of Heartland Research Inc plus AirData Solutions Inc.
  • Where: Lee County, Iowa and also part of Illinois, covering the much of Nauvoo.
  • How: Private donations for services, data processing, and analysis.

  • What: Commence process of restoring the world's oldest ship replica from 600BC, which has circumnavigated Africa and crossed the Atlantic ocean from the Middle East to America.
  • Who: Members of Heartland Research Inc plus volunteers.
  • Where: Lee County, Iowa between Montrose and Fort Madison.
  • How: Private donations for materials, space, and equipment plus donations in labor.

Mission Statement

The Heartland Research Group researches archaeological evidence of the ancient civilizations of America.
Heartland Research Group activities include:

  • Field Research
    Uses archeological techniques and scanning technologies to reveal the remains of ancient civilizations.
  • Ancient Artifacts
    Encourages and facilitate study of ancient North American artifacts, including tablets, tools, weapons, metal works, and other items.
  • Geography
    Research and develop maps, using scanning technologies and other means, to identify the locations and activities of ancient civilizations.
  • Linguistics
    Analyze and translate ancient writings found in North America, especially those relating to other civilizations world wide.
  • Preservation and Display
    Collect, restore, preserve, catalog and exhibit ancient artifacts and replicas, and make them readily available to researchers and viewable to the public.
  • Archaeology, Geology, and History
    Study and research into all aspects archaeology, geology, and history that shed light on ancient North American peoples and cultures.
  • Promotion and Support
    Raise awareness of our activities. Work directly with and support individuals and groups in activities that share our same goals.
The Heartland Research Group welcomes researchers and interested parties of all backgrounds to share their analysis and findings of ancient American heartland civilizations.

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