Mormons

Mormons in Missouri

Postcard of an Independence street scene and the Temple Lot, dedicated by Joseph Smith, Aug. 3, 1831
Postcard of an Independence street scene and the Temple Lot, dedicated by Joseph Smith, Aug. 3, 1831
Some of the earliest settlers in Jackson County were Christian missionaries, including Methodists, Baptists, and Catholics who focused their efforts on conversion of Native Americans. Early in 1831, missionaries from a newly organized church—the Church of Christ, organized by Joseph Smith in Fayette, New York, on April 6, 1830—entered the competition to save Native souls. They preached a short time among the Delawares until forced to leave by the Indian agent Major Richard W. Cummins (William W. Harris in The Kansas City Star, March 19, 1933.)
 
 In July 1831, Joseph Smith, Edward Partridge, W. W. Phelps, and several others arrived in Jackson County, Missouri. They were joined a week later by members of the Colesville, New York Church of Christ congregation. The congregation settled en masse in the western part of Kaw township, and sometime in 1832 opened a school in what is now Troost Park.
 
Members of the church believed Jackson County, and specifically Independence, had been designated by “divine revelation” to be the place of Zion- the New Jerusalem. During Smith’s visit the summer of 1831, he dedicated the Temple Lot in Independence, Missouri, on August 3rd for the building of a temple. He did not stay, but returned to Kirtland, Ohio, then the headquarters of what later became the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints.
 
Members of the church began to gather in Jackson County following the instructions to emigrate to Missouri. They settled on farms, opened shops, and established a printing press. Edward Partridge, who had remained and was the designated leader of the members in Missouri, began to purchase property in the area for the church.
It wasn’t long, though, before other residents took violent exception to these “Mormons,” as they derogatorily called them for their belief in The Book of Mormon. The Mormons were also anti-slavery in a slave state, and their intention to make Independence the “New Jerusalem” did not sit well with the others.
 
A mob, composed of “most of the clergy, acting as missionaries to the Indians . . . were among the most prominent characters that rose up and rushed on us to destroy the rights of the church, as well as the lives of her members” (Times and Seasons, vol. 6, p. 816). Much of their property was destroyed, lives were lost to violence, and the Mormons were forced to flee Jackson County in November 1833. They settled briefly in Clay County across the river.
 
Anti-Mormon sentiment remained strong, however, and on October 27, 1838, the famous Missouri Executive Order #44 (commonly called the Extermination Order), was issued by Missouri’s governor Lilburn Boggs. All members of the church were driven from the state of Missouri. They found sanctuary in Nauvoo, Illinois, until 1844 when Joseph Smith and his brother Hyrum were assassinated in Carthage, Illinois.
 
Several different leaders claimed to be Joseph’s successor. Brigham Young led the largest group to Salt Lake City, Utah, and charted what became known as the Mormon Trail. Others went in different directions, but many remained in Nauvoo, including Joseph Smith’s wife and family. In 1860 a group formed the Reorganized Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, under the leadership of Joseph Smith, III. 
 
The Extermination Order was formerly rescinded in June 25, 1976, by Missouri governor Christopher (Kit) S. Bond.
 

Selected Mormon resources in the Missouri Valley Room

In 1953, the Library purchased a major portion of an enormous collection amassed by Thomas Jefferson Fitzpatrick, a bibliomaniac. The Mormon material of 1,500 publications was only a small portion of the over 20,000 titles purchased.  Among the Mormon material were rare publications relative the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints and the Reorganized Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. These included the first edition of The Book of Mormon and first edition of the Doctrine and Covenants. Most of those titles, as well as subsequently acquired material, may be found in the Library’s online catalog.  Fitzpatrick’s correspondence, article clippings, and other papers are available in Thomas J. Fitzpatrick Papers (SC93).

 
Manuscripts, pamphlets, and scrapbooks
Evans, R. C. Book of Mormon: Evidence of its divinity. (1902, October). MVSC PF 289.3 E92B
 
Mormon Scrapbook (SC131). This scrapbook contains a printed title page entitled "The First Half Century of Mormonism,” newspaper clippings, and illustrations from various sources.
 
Spaulding, S. (1885). Manuscript Found or Manuscript Story. MVSC PF 289.3 S73M 1885
 
Maps
Route of the Mormon Pioneers from Nauvoo to the Great Salt Lake. (1997). SC117, Series 4-13: Pioneer Trails #13
 
Pioneer Map of Jackson County. (1934). SC117, Series 3-8: Jackson County & Independence, Missouri #11
 
Newspapers on microfilm
Hancock Eagle. (Nauvoo, IL). April 10, 1846 -August 28, 1846.
The Mormon. (Nauvoo, IL). February 17, 1856- August 9, 1856.
Nauvoo (IL) Expositor. June 7, 1844.
Nauvoo (IL) Neighbor. December 27, 1843-October 1, 1845.
Nauvoo (IL) New Citizen. December 23, 1846.
Times and Seasons. November 1, 1839- February 15, 1846.