After leaving Hill Cumorah, I took a tour of the Smith family farm, where Mormons believe that God and angels first appeared to Joseph Smith, and the roots of the Church of Latter Day Saints took hold.
As they tell it, the place has a rather intriguing history. First, after moving to New York from Vermont, the Smith family built a log cabin as a temporary residence on the farm they were intending to buy. They worked out a deal with a local bank to pay five installments of $100 for 100 acres near Palmyra.
After about four years on the farm, God and Jesus appeared to Joseph in what is now known as the Sacred Grove. (A painting of this appears in much Mormon literature and every Mormon church. It’s what many confuse as a painting of Joseph with two Jesuses.)
Joseph’s oldest brother, Alvin, began working on a farm house in 1822 for more permanent living. The wouldn’t keep the farm, though. The guides at the site say that the man smith hired to help with the house decided to steal the farm, and conned the bank into believing that the family was reneging on their debt. He took the deed when the Smiths only had one payment left to go. Despite drumming up community support and raising much money, the Smiths could not get the farm back and remained as renters in 1825.
This is the outside:
And the inside:
In 1827, probably the most famous event in Mormon history occurs. Joseph travels to Hill Cumorah where the angel Moroni shows him the location of the gold plates with the history of Jesus’ visit to the New World.
As many people tried to get the plates from Joseph, he hid them under the fireplace.
Later, he also hid them in the cooper house, which is where he cooped. (While no one says “cooped” anymore, it essentially meant that he built barrels for a living.)
In 1929, the plates were translated into English, and the next year, they were available in print. By the end of 1830, the first Mormon church was organized and the Smith family had left the farm. Mormon history went elsewhere, leading the Church to its now famous location, Utah.
It took the Mormons many years to get the farm back, as it went through a succession of owners. Finally, in 1907, a dedicated adherent of the faith paid $16,000 for the farm and donated it to the Church. That’s 32 times what the Smiths would have paid had they not lost the farm (not including inflation).
In addition to my posts about the Hill Cumorah Pageant, I have made a podcast about it, which you can listen to here.