Nauvoo Journals

LDS Church History Tour

A July 2004 trip to Nauvoo by kathypac

Quote: This is an LDS Church History Tour.

LDS Church History Tour

Overview

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This is the bare bones of a very long LDS Church History Tour I took a couple of years ago. But don’t think you have to pay a tour guide to go on this type of tour. If you have the time, go ahead and drive it yourself. Plan to take a couple of weeks, so you don’t feel too rushed. This tour covered everything from Joseph’s Smith birth in Sharon, VT, to his death in Carthage, IL, and everything in between. Joseph Smith was the founder of the Mormon Church, he died at 38 years of age, but the Mormon Church has continued to flourish.Quick Tips: Give yourself 2 weeks, don't rush yourself on this trip. Don’t forget your camera, and many of the sites are best captured with a camcorder, it’s hard t...Read More

Adam-ondi-Ahman

Attraction

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Adam-ondi-Ahman is located 25 miles north of Far West, in Daviess County, Missouri. The early settlement was nicknamed Diahman by contemporaries and the town’s name was later known as Cravensville, after the Saints were forced to move. According to Joseph Smith, Adam-ondi-Ahman is the location where Adam, is expected to visit the earth at the Second Coming of Jesus. It’s also believed to be the location where Adam and Eve are said to have lived after being cast out from the Garden of Eden. Take that for what you will.

Member Rating 4 out of 5 on October 20, 2006

Adam-ondi-Ahman
MO
Nauvoo, Illinois

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This is a lesser known church site, and isn’t included on many tours. It’s located about 25 miles south of Harmony, and used to be known as South Bainbridge. This is the town Emma and Joseph eloped to where they were married in the home of Squire Zachariah Tarbell, then Justice of the Peace. The home is no longer there, but there is a marker commemorating the spot. The Prophet also experienced his first arrest, trial, and eventually, his first acquittal here in South Bainbridge.

Member Rating 3 out of 5 on October 20, 2006

LDS New York State Historical Marker
Afton Fairgrounds at NY State 41
Afton, New York 13730

LDS Historic Site-Far West

Attraction | "Far West"

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Far West, Missouri, is located about 30 miles north of Liberty. Here you can see the cornerstones of a temple planned by the Church. You can also enjoy the picnic area situated near the temple site. Far West was settled by members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in 1836. It quickly became the commercial and ecclesiastical center of the Church, as well as the county seat. It was in Far West that the official name of the LDS Church, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, was revealed (see Section 115 in the D&C). The church was eventually driven out of Far West, and about 5,000 members walked out under guard into Illinois. After the Saints left, Far West was pretty much ...Read More

Member Rating 4 out of 5 on October 20, 2006

LDS Historic Site-Far West
Highway D
Far West, Missouri
(816) 781-3188

Fayette

Story/Tip

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The next stop is Fayette, NY, where the LDS Church was organized April 6, 1930 in the Whitmer Home. The first baptisms into the church were also performed nearby. All of the historical sites in this area have been meticulously restored and stocked with antiques from the time period. Most have free guided tours, so you don’t have to just walk around feeling lost.

Member Rating 4 out of 5 on October 20, 2006

LDS Historic Site

Hotel | "Harmony"

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Next drive to Harmony, PA, where you can see Joseph and Emma’s home, where most of the Book of Mormon was translated. This site wasn’t fully restored during our visit, but I believe it is completed now. This is the town where Joseph Smith met Emma Hale for the first time.
Other than that, there's not really a lot to see here, but it's a nice little town. We ate dinner here at a nice family restaurant downtown, and everything seemed pretty reasonably priced. We didn't stay here overnight, but continued on an stopped at a motel later on.

Member Rating 3 out of 5 on October 20, 2006

LDS Historic Site

Harmony, Pennsylvania

Amish Country

Attraction | "Holmes County"

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Before you leave the area, be sure to visit Holmes County, where you will find the largest concentration of Amish in the United States. Anywhere you eat will be excellent, and there are a lot of souvenir shops to buy things from. In fact, I think there were more souvenir shops than regular buildings in the small town.

The Amish eschew modern technology like electricity, cars, and telephones, but everyone was very friendly and the kids were excited to see horse drawn buggies on the road.

Member Rating 4 out of 5 on October 20, 2006

Amish Country
4363 S.R. 39
Columbus, Ohio

LDS Historic Site

Attraction | "Independence"

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Sacred to the Mormons for being in the center of Zion, Independence has few sites, but they are very significant. Make sure to visit the original temple site, not that anything is going on there right now. The Mormons believe that a temple will eventually be built on this site, actually it will be one of the signs of the Last Days. If you have the time, take the Independence, Missouri Mormon Walking Trail, which will take you to most of the good travel sites.

Member Rating 3 out of 5 on October 20, 2006

LDS Historic Site
SW of Intersection Lexington St. and River Blvd.
Independence, MO

LDS Visitor Center

Attraction | "Kirtland"

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Historic Kirtland is your next stop, where you can really delve into church history. Enjoy the Newel K. Whitney store, Joseph Smith’s first stop in Kirtland, and where the School of the Prophets was held. Sixty-five separate revelations contained in the Doctrine and Covenants were received here, most of them in the historic buildings. Be sure to visit the Ashery (the only restored ashery in the United States) and the functional sawmill. The visitor’s center usually plays a movie detailing the history of Kirtland, but right now you can see a new movie detailing the Restoration.

Member Rating 5 out of 5 on October 20, 2006

LDS Visitor Center
7800 Kirtland-Chardon Road
Kirtland, Ohio 44094

LDS Visitors' Center

Hotel | "Nauvoo"

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As you travel to Nauvoo, you will follow the path the Mormons followed after the infamous extermination order, issued by then Governor Lillburn Boggs. As you enter Nauvoo, you will see why it was called the “city beautiful.” Many of the buildings have been restored, and there are some, like the Heber C. Kimball home, that are mostly original. There is a ton of stuff to do in Nauvoo, I will just list the most popular historical sites. Make sure to visit the Visitor’s Center to get a list of all the sites.

Member Rating 4 out of 5 on October 20, 2006

LDS Visitors' Center
290 North Main Street
Nauvoo, IL 62345
(888) 453-6434

Sacred Grove

Attraction | "Palmyra"

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The next stop is Palmyra , NY , which is the location of the Sacred Grove and the Hill Cumorah. This is where Joseph Smith received the First Vision and found the Golden Plates (eventually the Book of Mormon.) Be sure to visit the Smith Log Cabin, and see the room where Moroni appeared to a young Joseph Smith. I didn’t see every site here, but you have to see the Grandin Print Shop, where the Book of Mormon was first printed.

Member Rating 4 out of 5 on October 20, 2006

Sacred Grove
843 Stafford Road
Palmyra 14522

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A good starting place for the whole tour is Sharon, VT, where Joseph Smith was born in 1805. Come and see his birthplace, a restored home with lots of period antiques. A real attempt has been made to make everything look authentic. Take some time to drive around and see the beautiful country side. You can travel the actual roads traveled by men in the 1800’s, and some of the covered bridges are still in working condition

Member Rating 5 out of 5 on October 20, 2006

Joseph Smith Birthplace Memorial
357 LDS Lane
South Royalton, VT 05068
(802) 763-8198

St. Louis

Attraction

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There’s not much else to see along the way until you get to St. Louis, Missouri. On your way, you will be following the trail of Zion’s Camp, and you should catch a couple of good views of the Mississippi River, which was the way to travel back in the 1800’s. St. Louis kind of acts as the gateway for all the historic sites in Missouri, and may be a good place to find a hotel so you can start bright and early the next day

Member Rating 3 out of 5 on October 20, 2006

Carthage Jail

Story/Tip

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The Carthage Jail is located just a short distance away in Carthage, Il. This is where the martyrdom of Joseph Smith and his brother Hyrum took place. You can actually see the bullet hole in the door of the bullet that took Hyrum’s life. In the jail, a short audio segment is played documenting what took place in the final hours there. The jail was constructed in 1839-40, and in later years it was converted into a house. It remained a private home until 1903, when The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints bought it. In 1938 the Church restored the building.
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The Hill Cumorah Pageant in Palmyra, NY plays every year for about a month, around the month of July. You don’t need a ticket to get in, and seats are already set up for everybody. If you arrive a little bit late, you can spread out a blanket in the large area behind the seats and still get a very good view. The pageant boasts more than 700 actors, and it performed on a multi level stage built right into the hillside. It really is an amazing experience, and I was surprised at how easy if was to hear and follow what was going on, since we weren’t super close to the stage.

Kirtland Temple

Story/Tip

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The Kirtland Temple is located in Kirtland, OH, and is currently owned by The Community of Christ, formerly called the Reorganized Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. They are a splinter group who left the church after the death of Joseph Smith. They have recently started charging a small fee if you want to go inside the temple, but it’s definitely worth it. The grounds are beautiful, the green entrance doors are stunning, and you can actually see the pulpit where the Savior appeared to Joseph Smith and Oliver Cowdery. On slow days, they will allow you to go upstairs, although there’s not really much up there.

Liberty Jail

Story/Tip

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Liberty Jail is located in Independence, MO. Joseph Smith spent a lot of time here in 1838-1839. Doctrine and Covenants sections 121, 122, and 123 were received here, and reading them will help you to feel what he felt while in prison. The prison is restored to its original form, and it’s fascinating to see just how small and dark the place actually is.

Nauvoo Temple

Story/Tip

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The Nauvoo Temple is located in Nauvoo, IL, and is one of the most beautiful temples in the Church. It has been rebuilt exactly as it was originally built by the Saints. Unlike the Kirtland Temple, this is a functioning temple, so you can go through if you make reservations (and if you’re a member in good standing.) It was definitely the highlight of my two-week tour. Make sure to look at the sunstones, moonstones, and star stones. You can follow the phases of the moon as you walk around the temple

Sacred Grove

Story/Tip

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The Sacred Grove is located in Palmyra, NY, and is where Joseph Smith was visited by God and Jesus Christ when he was just 14 years old. He came here one day to pray, in search of God’s church. He was told that none of the existing churches were God’s true church, and to wait for further instruction. On a hot summer day, it’s nice to walk through the cool woods and just kind of drink in the peace and calm here. Nobody knows exactly where in the woods the vision took place; there are a lot of winding footpaths all through the area. Even when there are lots of people around, you can usually find a secluded spot and a bench to sit down on for a while.

Susquehanna River

Story/Tip

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Stop by the Susquehanna River in Harmony, PA, where Joseph and Oliver were baptized before the restoration of the church. This is also where the Aaronic Priesthood was restored. In fact, there is an Aaronic Priesthood Monument , constructed by Dr. Avard Fairbanks. The three bronze figures on the monument represent John the Baptist conferring the Aaronic Priesthood upon Joseph Smith and Oliver Cowdery. There is an inscription on the base of the monument and also some information on the “Aaronic Priesthood Restoration” sign immediately to the right of the monument.

About the Writer

kathypac

kathypac
University Hts, Ohio