Kenneth Mays

Kenneth Mays, who works as an instructor in the Church Educational System and serves as trustee for the Mormon Historic Sites Foundation, remembers taking his first photographs as a hobby in 1985. Since then, it's turned into "an out-of-control passion."

Tens of thousands of pictures later, Mays has amassed a collection of LDS Church history photos from around the world.

Mays, who teaches church history courses at LDS institutes, said he has never taught the exact same lesson twice.

"I started taking pictures and then I said, 'Well, I can use them in the lessons,' " Mays said. "It's a hobby that turned into something that I can use to teach church history. ... I can always take something new and infuse it into the lessons."

As he travels, Mays receives much of his information from locals and ward historians who know the areas and are eager to share their knowledge.

Mays has shared his photos and stories with the Deseret News through the weekly feature "Picturing History" in the Mormon Times section.

Many of the photos Mays takes are of lesser-known church history sites. A list of 10 of those sites was published in 2011.

Here are 10 more sites that may not be well-known to church members but are nonetheless significant to the history of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, with photos and information provided by Mays.

Erie Canal
Kenneth Mays

Shown here in Rome, New York, the Erie Canal was monumental in the economic development of Palmyra, New York, and the publication of the Book of Mormon in 1830.

When Palmyra was designated as a canal stop, Mays said that the city was given a very bright future.

During that era, economies boomed in cities that served as canal stops, due to their need for businesses like hotels, restaurants and blacksmiths, which accommodated travelers and businesspeople.

One such business was a bookstore and printing company opened by Egbert "E.B." Grandin. The canal allowed Grandin to float his equipment and supplies into the city for 90 percent less than traditional overland methods, and Joseph Smith was able to use the printing press to print and publish the Book of Mormon at an acceptable cost.

Stannard Quarry
Kenneth Mays

The Stannard Quarry in Ohio is one of several quarry sites from which stone was taken to build the Kirtland Temple in 1836.

The site, located two miles away from Kirtland, down present-day Highway 306, was frequented by workers, including Joseph Smith, during the construction process.

Mays said that tourists who travel to Kirtland are usually not aware that the quarry site is so close to the temple.

Additionally, once at the site, many tourists take time to walk along the raised, wooden path and to read the memorial plaques, but overlook a square-shaped pond, which was the deepest part of the quarry. The pond’s shape indicates that it was, perhaps, where most of the stone came from.

"Because it’s filled with water, we don’t think about (it)," Mays said. "The quarry was really deep; it’s just full of water, so you don’t see it."

King James Bible translation site
Kenneth Mays

"A huge percentage of King James translators either were educated at Oxford and Cambridge, or they taught there, or both," Mays said. "Dozens of them were there, so it was very historic."

Of the 39 constituent colleges at Oxford, Mays mentioned that Merton College should be of particular mention among students of the Bible. Mays said that most of the Bible translation process likely occurred between 1605-1609.

During that time, Merton College warden Henry Saville invited one of the six translating committees to this room — his living quarters at the time — to work on their portion of the Bible.

The books translated in this room included the Gospels (Matthew, Mark, Luke and John), Acts and Revelation.

More information about the translation of the King James Bible and its translators can be found at

Lorenzo Snow birth home
Kenneth Mays

The birth home of Lorenzo Snow and the childhood home of his sister, Eliza R. Snow, is located in Mantua, Ohio — about 25-30 miles away from Kirtland. It is also close to Hiram, Ohio, where Joseph Smith lived for about a year.

The second floor of the Snow home is a later addition to the building, while the original main level remains intact.

The residence is currently owned by a man who is not LDS who Mays said has taken LDS visitors through the home "countless times."

Many years went by before several members of the Snow family became converted to the gospel. Eventually, Eliza would become the second Relief Society general president (1866-1887) and Lorenzo would serve as the fifth president of the church (1898-1901).

Perlea Moore gravesite
Kenneth Mays

Just a mile or so away from the Snow home is the gravesite of Perlea Moore, which is located at a cemetery in Mantua Center, Ohio.

Though Moore died at a young age in 1843, Mays said an interesting fact is included in her cemetery records: "She provided the pillow when Joe Smith was tarred and feathered."

Moore's headstone is shown lying horizontally on the lawn in this picture.

Smith Family Memorial
Kenneth Mays

This monument in Topsfield, Massachusetts, was erected in honor of several of Joseph Smith Jr.'s ancestors.

Joseph Smith's great-great-great grandfather, Robert, emigrated from England to the United States when he was 13 years old.

Robert had a son named Samuel, who had a son named Samuel II. Samuel II's son, Asael, was the father of Joseph Smith Sr. Samuel, Samuel II, Asael and Joseph Sr. were all christened in Topsfield.

The monument shown here in Topsfield Pin Grove Cemetery is dedicated to Robert, Samuel and Samuel II. A marker placed outside the nearby Smith Homestead in 2005 describes the Smiths as a family "whose lives and character exemplified the cultural, political and religious values of the New England region and of a new and emerging nation."

Box Canyon
Kenneth Mays

As the Mormon Battalion made its way through Southern California toward the Pacific Ocean, the group reached a spot in the Anza-Borrego Desert where its wagons were too wide to fit through some parts of the trail.

On Jan. 19, 1847, Battalion members chiseled back sections of rock in order to make space for the wagon tires to pass through unobstructed.

At some locations in an area known as Box Canyon, those chiseled-away rocks have been naturally preserved, allowing visitors to see an exact location where church history occurred.

Embarras River
Kenneth Mays

In the summer of 1834, Joseph Smith and members of Zion's Camp were traveling on a 900-mile journey westward.

On May 26, the group stopped to pitch tents near Illinois' Embarras River, only to find that the area was infested by prairie rattlesnakes.

Joseph Smith’s recorded history, as recounted in History of the Church, Volume II (page 71), reads: "We crossed the Embarras River and camped on a small branch of the same about one mile west. In pitching my tent, we found three prairie rattlesnakes, which the brethren were about to kill, but I said, ‘Let them alone. Don’t hurt them. How will the serpent ever lose its venom while the servants of God possess the same disposition and continue to make war upon it?' "

The account goes on to say that, instead of killing the snakes, the men used long sticks to carry the serpents onto the other side of the river.

Edward Martin gravesite
Kenneth Mays

The gravesite of Edward Martin, the leader of the ill-fated Martin Handcart Company, can be found at the Salt Lake City Cemetery in Salt Lake City.

James Willie gravesite

The gravesite of James Willie, who led the Willie Handcart Company across the plains in 1856, is located in the Mendon Cemetery in Mendon, Cache County, Utah.