Hey guys, so studying the history of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints can be a bit overwhelming at first. There are a lot of places and dates to remember. You hear names like Palmyra, Kirtland, Harmony, Nauvoo, Independence, Far West, and it can be hard to keep track of how all of these pieces fit together. So in this video, we’re going to give a brief and very broad overview of Church History. Hopefully, we can successfully connect some of these dots.
Now, this episode is actually the 100th episode of this Faith and Beliefs segment of Saints Unscripted. Many of those episodes—including this one—have touched on different events from Church history. So in an educational show of appreciation, we made this really cool little timeline where we’ve sort of mapped out a ton of major Church history events, where, and when they happened. Honestly, this is something you’re going to want to print out and keep in your scriptures or something. You can download it for free via the link in the description. We might add to it over time—we’ll see. Thanks for all of your support. Let’s do this.
Joseph Smith was born in 1805 in Sharon, Vermont, but grew up in Palmyra, New York. In 1825, Joseph and his father were hired as part of a team working for a guy named Josiah Stowell, digging for a silver mine, in Harmony, Pennsylvania. Stowell’s crew boarded at the Hale family farm, where Joseph met his future wife, Emma Hale.
After the search for the silver mine ended, Joseph went to work on Josiah Stowell’s farm in South Bainbridge, about 30 miles from Harmony. In 1827, Joseph and Emma eloped in South Bainbridge and then moved in with Joseph’s family who had since completed their frame home in Manchester, New York, just south of where their Palmyra log cabin had been.
In September 1827, Joseph received those famous “golden plates.” But threats from enemies and attempts to steal the plates prompted Joseph and Emma to move into a home on Emma’s family’s property in Harmony. A lot of great things happened in Harmony. For example, this is where Oliver Cowdery comes into the picture and starts working as Joseph’s scribe. But persecution once again caused Joseph to temporarily move. This time, into the home of one of Oliver’s friends, David Whitmer, in Fayette New York, where the translation was completed.
Once the translation was done and the Book of Mormon was set to be printed in 1829, Joseph and Emma moved back to their home in Harmony. During a trip to Fayette in April 1830, Joseph officially organized the Church.
In January 1831, Joseph and Emma moved to Kirtland, Ohio, where Sidney Rigdon and many members of his congregation had converted to the Church. Kirtland became the Church’s gathering-place. But in the same year, Joseph received a revelation that one day the Saints would gather and build a city in Jackson County, Missouri—centered around the city Independence. This was where they would build “Zion” or the “New Jerusalem.” Saints started to gather in Independence and Joseph made various trips between Independence and Kirtland until mobs forced the Saints out of Independence in the winter of 1833. They were scattered into surrounding counties.
In 1834, Joseph Smith led a group of Saints from Kirtland to Missouri to help those scattered Saints recover and defend their land. Joseph had been counting on help from the Missouri militia, as per a promise from Missouri governor Daniel Dunklin. But the governor reneged on his promise. The expedition known as “Zion’s Camp” ended without success.
In 1836, those scattered Saints began to regroup in a new county that the Missouri legislature had created for the Saints, called Caldwell County, where the Saints built a town called Far West.
Meanwhile, some great things had been happening in Kirtland over the years. During their Kirtland years, Joseph and Emma actually lived in a few different places. But Joseph’s time in Kirtland ended with the failure of the Kirtland Safety Society and massive apostasy. Joseph and several Church leaders left Kirtland in 1838 and set up shop with the Saints in Far West.
Just later that year in Missouri, persecutions raged once again and culminated in an armed conflict known as the 1838 Missouri Mormon War, during which time events like The Battle of Crooked River and the Haun’s Mill Massacre happened. The climax of the conflict was the infamous “extermination order” of Missouri governor Lilburn W. Boggs, also known as Missouri Executive Order 44. The state militia surrounded Far West, took Joseph Smith and other leaders prisoner, and the remaining Saints were given the next few months to leave the state or be exterminated.
Joseph and the other prisoners spent the winter of 1838 in the oxymoronic “Liberty” Jail while the Saints purchased land and regrouped in Commerce, Illinois. Joseph and the remaining prisoners were allowed to escape custody in April 1839, and they then rejoined the Saints in Commerce, which was soon renamed, “Nauvoo.”
At its peak, Nauvoo became one of the largest cities in Illinois, rivaled only by Chicago. Lots of important stuff happened in Nauvoo, and specifically on the spacious second level of the Prophet’s famous “Red Brick Store.”
But as per the longstanding pattern, persecutions once again escalated. Joseph Smith was assassinated in 1844 while in “protective custody” in Carthage, Illinois. The Saints were driven out of Nauvoo, the very town that (for all intents and purposes) they’d built from the ground up. Nonetheless, the Saints packed up and followed Brigham Young west to Utah Territory. That’s where we’re going to end this episode. I hope it was helpful. Check out the notes and links in the description for more info on this subject. Download that timeline if you’d like to, and have a great day!
TIMELINE OF CHURCH HISTORY LINK: https://bit.ly/37dwf7q
- Joseph and Emma in Harmony: https://bit.ly/2VFXgeG
- A chronology of Church History on the Church’s website: https://bit.ly/38r5cWG
- Life on the Smith farm: https://bit.ly/3ioxNjH
- Info on the marriage and early circumstances of Joseph and Emma: https://bit.ly/3io34U0
- Info on the Smith family log home: https://bit.ly/3gmAfFA
- Info on the Smith family frame home: https://bit.ly/2D5CkHR
- Info on Kirtland, Ohio: https://bit.ly/31CVsXJ
- Info on the Smith’s Ohio residences: https://bit.ly/31PhUgp
- Info on Jackson County, Missouri: https://bit.ly/3f5p5oF / https://bit.ly/38xQehF
- Info on Independence, Missouri: https://bit.ly/2O0nF2O
- Info on Zion’s Camp: https://bit.ly/3f46GZr
- Info on Far West, Missouri: https://bit.ly/38plL4Z
- Info on Liberty Jail: https://bit.ly/2BIH1XI