“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”)
“One of the key strategies used by the Mormons was to distribute the newest emigrants widely throughout society. This was often done by church leaders identifying a broad range of existing settlements where newcomers would settle. As mentioned earlier, when settlements were established, some lots were left vacant to allow new settlers to move into a community on equal footing with prior settlers in that community.117 In this way, entire settlements would share the pain of integrating newcomers. A second strategy was to incorporate new settlers into a party founding a new settlement. These parties included people with a broad range of skills, which the church had deemed necessary to fulfill its proscribed purpose to found a particular settlement. As mentioned, in each of these settlements the Plat of Zion was used to determine the community’s spatial layout, and land parcels were distributed most frequently on a lottery system. Thus, there were really no slums in nineteenth-century Mormon settlements. People were mixed in society in a way that allowed most people the opportunity to build up the skills necessary to participate fairly self-sufficiently.” (Brigham Daniels, p.18 “Revitalizing Zion”)
A dear friend provided me with tons of data to help in my research. This image was part of it, the source is unknown but I think it originated somewhere in the archives of BYU or The Church History Archives. Date unknown, based on the number of communities on the map, it is likely a very early one.
It’s a handwritten map showing the migration route into the Salt Lake Valley, the staging area for newcomers, from there different routes to different settling areas with the mileage written in black ink.
“The details of the Plat of Zion were drafted by Joseph Smith as early as 1833 (LDS archives) this was roughly fifteen years prior to the arrival of the Mormons in the Salt Lake Valley. The original plat was drafted in June 25th, 1833. when Joseph Smith was 27 years old. Joseph finally settled on one that captured the essence of what he was trying to accomplish while accommodating local variation to fit the environment in which these cities would develop. Two months later in August 1833, he produced the official Plat of Zion which would become the blueprint for future Zion cities. A third design and revisions were in progress but due to the Mormons volatile relationship with their neighbors it was never completed. Some of its highlights included: a greenbelt surrounding the city, grid patterns, central blocks with public buildings, location of heavy industry outside city limits, population caps, setbacks and equal lot sizes.
The Plat of Zion is best summarized by Charles L. Sellers in his study of early Mormon City Planning (Sellers, p. 24-30)
-The City was to be divided into a square grid pattern.
-Central blocks were reserved for ecclesiastical buildings.
-Specific blocks were reserved for public buildings—storehouses, schools and parks.
-The city was divided into ecclesiastical districts called wards resulting in the possible creating of social units or neighborhoods.
-Individual family lots were regulated relative to the sitting of dwellings and the enhancement of the community.
-The farmers and ranchers lived within the boundaries of the city in order to be part of the larger community.
-An agricultural greenbelt was to be created.
-Barns, corrals and heavy industry were to be located on the periphery of the city.”
Original Plat of Zion, June 25th 1833
Revised Plat of Zion, August 1833 as preserved by the LDS Church Archives. This Plat will be the one used in discussions in this blog.