The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 49, July 1945 - April, 1946

e lHormon J4igHratun into xras
C. STANLEY BANKS
T HE MOVEMENT commonly known as Mormonism, officially
"The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints," had
its real beginning in a vision which its founder Joseph Smith
(also known as Joseph Smith, Jr.) claimed to have seen in
his fifteenth year (1820), near Palmyra, New York. According
to Smith, he experienced a second vision in 1823, which revealed
to him the hiding place near Palmyra of certain ancient plates
containing the record of the ancestry of the American Indians,
the remnant of the House of Israel. With the plates were two
stones, known as the Urim and the Thummim, through the
instrumentality of which the plates could be translated. After
a further interval of four years, Smith claimed to have received
possession of the two stones and the plates, which he translated
and dictated to scribes, principally his wife, Emma, and one
Oliver Cowdery, an itinerant blacksmith and schoolteacher who
came to be associated with him. The translation was printed
in 1829 and is known as the Book of Mormon. This work is
regarded by the followers of Joseph Smith as a revelation of
God, similar to the Bible and of equal authority.
The first Mormon church was organized with six members
at Fayette, New York, on April 6, 1830, a date which is
annually observed with much ceremony by the church. The first
gathering place of the Mormons was at Kirtland, Ohio, in the
Western Reserve, from which place messengers were sent in
1831 to Missouri. This is said to have been done in response to
a further revelation to Joseph Smith in which Jackson County,
Missouri, was designated as the final gathering place for his
followers, commonly referred to as the Saints. It was to this
permanent Zion that the Lord should come in person in the
second resurrection. In the course of the months thereafter,
the Saints in large numbers moved to Missouri, and to Jackson
County in particular, where their headquarters were estab-
lished. The story of their life in Missouri is an exceedingly
bitter chapter in the history of the Mormon church. There
the followers underwent continuous persecution and harass-
1See Reed Smoot, "Mormons or Latter Day Saints," Encyclopedia
Britannica, XV, 14th ed.

Texas State Historical Association. The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 49, July 1945 - April, 1946. Austin, Texas. The Portal to Texas History. http://texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth146056/. Accessed September 17, 2014.