On the church history trail

Published: Monday, July 15 2013 5:00 a.m. MDT

Kirtland, Ohio: The headquarters of the LDS Church was primarily in Kirtland from 1831 to 1838. Two significant events that occurred in Kirtland were the organization of the Quorum of Twelve Apostles on Feb. 14, 1835, and the dedication of the Kirtland Temple on March 27, 1836.

Visitors can tour the Newel K. Whitney general store, now restored to its 1830 condition. Joseph Smith lived here for a time and established the School of the Prophets in one of the upper rooms.

The home of John and Alice Johnson is located in Hiram, Ohio, a 40-minute drive from Kirtland. 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. The landscape is still very much what it would have looked like in 1832. The home has been restored to its original beauty.

Missouri: The Lord identified Independence, Jackson County, as the center place of Zion in July 1831. But violent mobs forced the Saints out of Jackson County in November 1833. Members of the church then gathered in Clay County from 1833 to 1836. Joseph Smith and other church leaders were unjustly imprisoned in Liberty Jail from December 1838 to April 1839. From 1836-38, Far West was a gathering place for the Saints. They were later forced to flee to Illinois by 1839.

There is a visitors center at the restored Liberty Jail, where the Prophet Joseph Smith spent approximately five months and received three revelations.

Another recommended site is the Far West temple site. In the late 1830s, Far West was the home of 3,000 Saints. A temple site was dedicated and the cornerstones were laid before the people were driven out.

Adam-ondi-Ahman, a quiet, picturesque valley located near Gallatin in northwestern Missouri, is another place to visit. A historic marker indicates the valley where about 1,000 Saints settled in 1838 before being expelled.

Nauvoo, Ill.: Nauvoo was the headquarters of the church from 1839 to 1846.

In March 1842, the Relief Society was organized.

The Prophet Joseph Smith and his brother Hyrum were martyred on June 27, 1844, in the Carthage Jail. Saints began crossing the Mississippi River to travel west in February 1846.

The Nauvoo Temple was built in the 1840s and destroyed by fire in 1848. It was later rebuilt and dedicated in 2002. Today, Nauvoo is one of America’s premier historic communities. Visitors can explore more than 40 historic sites from the 1840 time period.

Council Bluffs, Iowa, and Winter Quarters, Neb.: The pioneers arrived at Council Bluffs, Iowa, in June 1846. Members of the Mormon Battalion departed on July 21 of that year to assist the U.S. military in the Mexican-American War. Across the Missouri River, Mormon pioneers built a temporary settlement at Winter Quarters with more than 800 cabins during the winter of 1846–47 while they waited for better conditions for their trek westward.

While witnessing a glimpse of the “Mormon Migration,” visit the one remaining headstone and approximately 300 unmarked pioneer graves in the cemetery. The cemetery is next to the Winter Quarters Temple and across the street from the Mormon Trail Center in Omaha, Neb.

Fort Laramie and Guernsey, Wyo.: Named for the French trapper Jacques LaRamie, the fort was a trading post before it became a U.S. military outpost in 1849. It served as a rest and re-supply stop on the trail for Saints traveling to the Salt Lake Valley.

A national historic park is located a short distance away in Guernsey, Wyo. At the park, visitors can see a half-mile of the exact trail followed by the pioneers thanks to deep ruts carved into the rocky terrain by wagons and the wheels of handcarts.

Devil’s Gate, Wyo.: Devil’s Gate was a major landmark on the trail west. Anyone coming, whether they were going to Utah, Oregon or California, walked past the deep gorge on the Sweetwater River, a few miles southwest of Independence Rock.

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