September 12, 2023

Visiting Far West, Missouri Caldwell County

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Far West Missouri is a name that comes up a lot in Church History of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. The Prophet Joseph Smith made Far West his home in Spring of 1838. Visiting the Far West the Temple Site it is easy to see how important the area was to the early Saints.

Background of Far West Missouri

Far West Missouri was the headquarters of the Church from 1836-1839. It was home to 5,000 early Saints.

The Missouri Saints anxiously awaited the Prophet Joseph Smith arrival to Far West. The people loved their prophet and some came over 100 miles to greet him, in his move from Kirtland Ohio, to Missouri. Joseph Smith received seven revelations in Far West: Doctrine and Covenants 113, 114, 115, 117, 118, 119, 120.

Missouri was looked at as a new start from the struggles that happened in Kirtland, Ohio. The Saints lost a lot of money in the Kirtland Bank and much of it was blamed on Joseph Smith. Many left the church including Martin Harris(a Book of Mormon Witness), Warren Parrish( a member of the 70's) and apostles Luke Johnson, Lyman Johnson and John F. Boynton.

Missouri Apostates

Times did not get easier in Missouri both Oliver Cowdery, and David Whitmer were excommunicated on several charges in 1838. William E. McLellin, Sampson Avard, John Corrill, Reed Peck, George Hinkle, Burr Riggs, John Cleminson, William W. Phelps, John Witmer and Orson Hyde had all left the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. Some of the false testimonies of these men are what put the prophet Joseph Smith in prison in Liberty Jail.

When Oliver Cowdery left the Church he wrote "I will not be influenced, governed, or controlled, in my temporal interests by any ecclesiastical authority or pretended revelation whatever, contrary to my own judgment."

Missouri was a very difficult time for the Saints. The Lord told Joseph Smith that "he [the Lord] is like a refiner's fire, . . . and he shall purify the sons of Levi. (Doctrine and Covenants 128:24)

The work of the Lord continued on, and the five apostles who left the Church were replaced by John E. Page, John Taylor, Wilford Woodruff, George A. Smith and Willard Richards. (D&C 118:6)

After time, some of the dissenters returned to the Church including Orson Hyde, after a year he was reinstated as an apostle in Nauvoo. He served as a senior member of the Quorum of the Twelve for three decades. William W. Phelps returned in 1840. Luke Johnson returned in 1846 and came to Utah with the original pioneers. Oliver Cowdery returned in 1848. Martin Harris returned in 1870 and was baptized by Edward Stevenson. Thomas B. Marsh was baptized in Nebraska in 1857 and joined the Saints in Utah that same year.

Saints Expulsion from Caldwell County

There were many violent eruptions that forced the Saints from their homes in Far West in 1838. The first was the "Election Day Battle" on August 6. Then, The Fall of DeWitt, the Saints fled on Oct. 11, The Battle of Crooked River on October 25. The Extermination order of Governor Boggs on October 27. The Haun's Mill Massacre on October 30, the treachery of Colonel Hinkle on October 31, and the imprisonment of the Prophet Joseph Smith on November 2.

With all the problems the Saints in outlying settlements were urged to gather in Far West in October 1838. They would have a larger population and militia to defend themselves against the Missouri Mob. Brigham Young, the Senior Apostle at 38 years old, became the leader of the Church in Missouri while the Prophet Joseph Smith was in Jail. Committees were organized and the Latter-Day Saints began leaving Missouri. The homeless Latter-Day Saints were welcomed by the wonderful people of Quincy Illinois, more than 200 miles away.

Far West Missouri, Where Cain Killed Able

According to Reed Peck, a early member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, who dissented from the Church in Far West Missouri. He wrote this on Far West:

"[They founded] Adam-ondi-Ahman- informing their followers that it was the place to which Adam fled when driven from the garden of Eden in Jackson County and that Far West was the spot where Cain killed Able."

Another Latter-Day Saint, Alvin R. Dyer, assistant to the Twelve said this about Far West being where Cain killed Abel:

"This information [from Reed Pack] tends to explain why the Lord declared Far West to be a holy consecrated place; and no doubt explains why Satan claimed that place as his own, as it was here that he entered into a covenant with Cain, resulting in the death of Abel, the first of mortal existence [to be murdered] upon this earth."

Missouri Church History Sites

Visiting the Adam-Ondi-Ahman, Missouri

Historical Walking Tour Independence Missouri Sites 1-6

David Whitmers Grave, Richmond County Cemetery, Richmond Missouri

Historical Markers Walking Trail Independence Missouri 7-14

References: "Sacred Places" Missouri Volume 4. by LaMar C. Barrett pg 317-323.

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