Before the discussion of the westward movement of the Church begins, it is important to start laying out the organizational foundation of the early Church. Prior to the Saint’s first migration to their first gathering place, “The Ohio”, the majority of the Church membership lived near and around the Prophet Joseph Smith in New York.
The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-days was organized in April 6th, 1830 in a log farm in Fayette, Seneca County, New York. Due to rapid growth, three separate branches [small congregations] of the Church were organized respectively in Colesville, NY [about 65 souls]; Fayette, NY [about 80 souls] and Palmyra, NY [about 50 souls].
By 1831, due to persecution the majority of the members of this fledgling church would have to migrate to Ohio.
“Between the end of January and the middle of May 1831, most of the New York Saints sold their possessions, packed their most precious material goods, and migrated to Kirtland and the adjacent areas. Joseph Smith and a few others went early and were followed by three separate companies—the Colesville Saints, members from Fayette and surrounding locations in Seneca County, and those from Palmyra-Manchester. A few others came later in the year.” [Church History in the Fulness of Times, page 91]
These three groups arrived in Ohio in the spring of 1831, which ends the “first phase of their westward movement” [CHFT, page 92]
In the next blog post I will discuss the plans for first Zion City – Kirtland Ohio.
This is more of a quick book review. In my personal studies I came across this incredible resource that discusses the history of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. The more I read it, the more I realize that the information contained in it matches scholarly research that I’ve had access to.
You are not on some sort of research grant and have hours and hours of free time to pour over scholarly books? then this will be a great primer for you to get you started on the right foot! It is concise, candid, free and easy to digest.
Give it a shot!
In the past few months I’ve had a lot of changes in my life, and finally got around to completing a very important project that was taking up my free time. The next blog entries will be focusing on the spiritual and physical aspects to the Plat of Zion.
Thanks – Ed
“We all concede the point that when this mortality falls off, and with its cares, anxieties, love of self, love of wealth, love of power, and all the conflicting interests . . . , that then, when our spirits have returned to God who gave them, . . . we shall then live together as one great family; our interest will be a general common interest. Why can we not so live in this world?” (Journal of Discourses 12:153)
“Let us train our minds until we delight in that which is good, lovely, and holy, seeking continually after that intelligence which will enable us effectually to build up Zion, which consists in building houses, tabernacles, temples, streets, and every convenience and necessity to embellish and beautify, seeking to do the will of the Lord all the days of our lives, improving our minds in all scientific and mechanical knowledge, seeking diligently to understand the great design and plan of all created things, that we may know what to do with our lives and how to improve upon the facilities placed within our reach.” (Journal of Discourses 10:177)
“Are we prepared now to establish the Zion that the Lord designs to build up? I have many times asked the questions, “Where is the man that knows how to lay the first rock for the wall that is to surround the New Jerusalem or the Zion of God on the earth? Where is the man who knows how to construct the first gate of the city? Where is the man who understands how to build up the kingdom of God in its purity and to prepare for Zion to come down to meet it?” “Well,” says one, “I thought the Lord was going to do this.” So He is if we will let Him. That is what we want: we want the people to be willing for the Lord to do it. But He will do it by means. He will not send His angels to gather up the rock to build up the New Jerusalem. He will not send His angels from the heavens to go to the mountains to cut the timber and make it into lumber to adorn the city of Zion. He has called upon us to do this work; and if we will let Him work by, through, and with us, He can accomplish it; otherwise we shall fall short, and shall never have the honor of building up Zion on the earth.” (Journal of Discourses 3: 314)
“[W]e can’t build Zion sitting on a hemlock slab (a crude wooden bench) singing ourselves away to everlasting bliss; we are obliged to build cities, towns, and villages, and we are obliged to gather the people from every nation under heaven to the Zion of God, that they may be taught the ways of the Lord.” (Journal of Discourses 16:268-69)
“The Mormon Pioneers were driven into the desert; they were starving and they were unclad; they were cold. We are the inheritors of what they gave to us. But what are we doing with it?” (Christmas Devotional for Church Employees, Dec. 1973)
“As the church distributed land, it attempted to balance individual preferences with what was couched as Zion’s welfare in several ways.
First, land speculation was discouraged, and at times not permitted as a per se violation of one’s stewardship: “[N]o man should hold more land than he could cultivate; and if a man would not till his land, it should be taken from him.”Land speculation had proved problematic in other Mormon settlements in the east, particularly Ohio, where those who arrived first attempted to profit at the expense of settlers who arrived subsequently.
Second, land was generally distributed in a manner that put a premium on equity. Often church leaders assigned parcels by drawing of lots. Properties were often reserved for those who would subsequently arrive, allowing them to enter “the community on the same terms as the original settlers.”
Third, the church would redistribute land if it was not put to productive use. This redistribution largely relied on an honor system (not infrequently pushed to its outer limits), where settlers returned unused land to the church. At a high-water mark of church power, some church leaders even confiscated land to redistribute.” (Brigham Daniels, p. 15 “Revitalizing Zion”)