10 spots in church history to see, experience

Published: Monday, May 9 2011 4:00 a.m. MDT

“I don’t think a lot of people go down there now because it’s a challenge. It’s a chore to get there, but if you are going to be there, you can’t miss the river. It’s a beautiful spot,” he said.

“We don’t know the exact spot, but we know Joseph walked along that river. Being in that landscape helps you connect with Joseph in a way,” Utt said.

John Johnson farm

The home of John and Alice Johnson is located in Hiram, Ohio.

Joseph and Emma Smith lived in the home in 1832 when Joseph and Sidney Rigdon received the revelation that became Doctrine and Covenants 76. Joseph also worked on the Joseph Smith Translation of the Bible in this home. It is also where a mob of apostates and anti-Mormons severely beat and tarred and feathered Joseph and Sidney.

“Everyone goes to Kirtland, but most don’t feel it’s worth the 40-minute drive to go to the Johnson home. Personally, it’s my favorite church historic site,” Utt said. “My favorite spot in the home is the section 76 room. I also like standing on the porch because the morning after the tar and feathering, Joseph gave a sermon from that porch. You overlook the yard, out into the fields, and I can really imagine those events taking place.”

The landscape is still very much what it would have looked like in 1832. The home has been restored to its original beauty.

Three spots in Missouri

Most people go to Missouri to visit sites in Independence. But it you head north for one of the following, you might as well visit all three.

“All these are literally in the middle of nowhere. I think there are a couple of markers. But once again, it’s worth it,” Boatright said.

The first Missouri stop is the Far West temple site. In the late 1830s, Far West was once home to more than 3,000 Saints. A temple site was dedicated and the corner stones were laid. The saints were eventually driven out in the winter of 1838-39 and relocated in Illinois.

Adam-ondi-Ahman, a quiet, picturesque valley located near Gallatin in northwestern Missouri, is the second spot. A historic marker indicates the valley where about 1,000 Saints settled in 1838 before being expelled. The valley is also significant because three years before Adam died, he called his righteous posterity into that valley and blessed them (Doctrine and Covenants 107: 53-56). Before Christ’s second coming, Adam and his righteous posterity, which includes Saints of all dispensations, will again assemble in this valley to meet the Savior. An ideal time to visit is late spring/early summer, the curators agreed.

“There is that feeling that something happened here,” Boatright said. “And that something will happen here.”

From Gallatin, drive 45 minutes southeast to Haun’s Mill, the sobering site of a massacre on Oct. 30, 1838. On that day a mob of about 250 men attacked a small settlement of Mormon families, killing 18 and injuring 13. The grounds are owned and maintained by the Community of Christ.

“You really have to want to get there to get there, especially if it has been raining,” Boatright said. “But this was a bustling community where a horrific and tragic event occurred. To contrast the peaceful setting you find today with the event that gave it its place in church history is just surreal.”

Two spots in Nauvoo, Ill.

First, the Smith Family Cemetery is located on the south end of Main Street in historic Nauvoo, near the Red Brick Store, the homestead and mansion house, on the banks of the Mississippi River. This cemetery serves as the final resting place for Joseph Smith, Emma Hale Smith, Hyrum Smith, Joseph Sr., and Lucy Mack Smith, as well as many other Smith family members and friends.

“Here lies the prophet of the restoration and last dispensation. If you are going to Nauvoo, pay your respects to the prophet and his family,” Boatright suggested.

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