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Posted by: steve benson ( )
Date: November 25, 2013 06:38PM

Where's a working Liahona when you need one?

Anyone got a map to Joseph Smith's "Sacred Grove?" Didn't think so. From the clueless Mormon Church's own website:

"The Joseph Smith Sr. family moved to this 100-acre property in western New York [Manchester, New York, near Palmyra] around 1818. Joseph Smith, Jr. labored with his father and brothers to remove trees and prepare this heavily forested land for farming.

"'On the morning of a beautiful, clear day, early in the spring of 1820,' young Joseph went into these woods to pray, to a place where he 'had previously designed to go.' Here, God the Father and His resurrected Son, Jesus Christ, appeared to Joseph Smith to commence the Restoration of the gospel in the latter days.

"Joseph Smith's family moved away from this farm in 1830. The Church acquired the land in the early 1900s. The exact location of Joseph Smith's First Vision is unknown, but it occurred somewhere within a 10-acre forest on the western boundaries of the farm. This forest has been referred to as the Sacred Grove since 1906."

("Sacred Grove: Manchester, New York (near Palmyra)," from website of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, 10 September 2013, at:

The fact that the "Sacred Grove" is unfindable hasn't kept the Mormon Church from peddling its now-heralded "location" as the actual spot where God and Jesus stopped in to talk to Joseph Smith. Notice how the LDS Church's description dances around the issue of the "Sacred Grove's" precise whereabouts:

"A grove of trees on the Joseph Smith, Sr., farm near Palmyra, New York, is revered by Latter-day Saints as the vicinity where Joseph Smith experienced his first vision, the divine manifestation of God the Father and his Son Jesus Christ that began the restoration of the gospel in this dispensation. . . . The grove is part of the forest that once covered the Smiths' 100-acre farm in Manchester Township as well as much of western New York.

"The forest was some 400 years old when the family of Joseph Smith, Sr., moved to the site in 1818 or 1819. The large trees of the forest-maple, beech, elm, oak, and hickory-reached heights of up to 125 feet and diameters of 6 feet or more. Beneath this natural canopy grew hop hornbeam, wild cherry, and ash. The woodland floor was carpeted with leaves, ferns, grasses, wildflowers, and clumps of chokecherry and dogwood.

"The Smiths cleared the trees from 60 acres of their property. The Sacred Grove was part of a 15-acre wooded tract at the farm's west end, reserved as a sugarbush, where trees were tapped for making maple syrup and sugar.

"Subsequent owners of the farm maintained the grove, associating it with Joseph Smith's vision, although the exact location of the vision is unknown. In 1907 the Church purchased the farm and grove from William A. Chapman, and these sites formed the nucleus of the Church historical sites program, which at present includes properties from Vermont to Utah.

"Through an ongoing professional maintenance program, the Church has retained much of the primeval beauty of the Sacred Grove [Note: How can the Mormon Church preserve the beauty of this "Sacred Grove" when it admits it doesn't even know where it is?]. Trees that were mature at the time of Joseph Smith's boyhood still grace this forest. People from many lands visit the Sacred Grove each year."

("Sacred Grove," by Donald L. Enders, Harold B. Lee Library, Brigham Young University, Provo, Utah, at:; originally published in "Encyclopedia of Mormonism," at:

As to the actual setting of the "Sacred Grove," author John J. Hammond--in his "The Creation of Mormonism: Joseph Smith, Jr., in the 1820S"--writes that the "grove" is nowhere close to resembling the place as it was actually described in Smith's own history:

"Even the physical setting where the First Vision supposedly took place has been highly idealized. True-believing Mormon historian Richard Bushman, tells us that 'Joseph Smith came to a determination to pray for help in the early spring of 1820. With no hope of privacy in the little cabin filled with children and household activity, he went to a place in the woods where his father had a clearing and where Jseoph had left his axe in a stump.' To say the least, this 'picture' does not fit with the beautiful pristine grove of trees called to mind in official descripions and re-creations of the 'Sacred Grove,' not to mention the leafy arbor which tourists are directed to on the historic Smith Farm in Palmyra, New York. It aparently was not so much a 'grove' (sacred or not), as it was a man-made clearing with tree stumps!"

(John J. Hammond, "The Creation of Mormonism: Joseph Smith, Jr., in the 1820s: The Quest for a New Jerusalem, A Mormon Generational Saga," vol. 2. Chapter One, "The First Vision;: 'A Non-Entity for Over Two Decades" [John J. Hammond, 2011], pp. 3-4, at:

And here's how the Smiths' "near-the-Sacred-Movin-'n-Groovin' Grove" property actually looked in 1907, when the Mormon Church bought the place and proceeded to "restore" it:

(" File: Joseph Smith Family Farm in Manchester.jpg," at:

But never mind the facts. Here are uplifting photos, accompanied by Mormon muzak, as to how the non-located "Sacred Grove" looks today:

("Mormon/LDS: Sacred Grove," 14 January 2010, posted by Eduardo Bueno, at:

Finally, let's open the following big can of worms for Mormon true-believers:

There is inconvenient evidence that Joseph Smith, Jr. wasn't even in his Palymyra, New York, household in 1820--this according to the Manchester 1820 census itself. Moreover, there exists further evidence that Smith's family didn't move to their Palmyra farm until 1822.

So much for Joseph Smith's "Sacred Grove," Palmyra-based "First Vision" of 1820.

H. Michael Marquardt and Wesley P. Walters lay out the timeline of Smith family events in their book, "Inventing Mormonism," under "Chapter 1: "The Move to Palymra and Manchester, New York":

"When Joseph Smith, Jr., began working on the official history of his life and Church, he created a chronological puzzle. When precisely did his family move to Palmyra, New York, and later to the adjoining township of Manchester? In his narrative he places the move two years before an important religious revival which he says preceded his first vision. However, there are problems with this sequence of events.

"At the opening of his 1838-39 autobiography, Smith reports that his father moved to Palmyra when he was in his tenth year. Joseph Jr. was born on 23 December 1805, which means his 'tenth' year was probably 1815. But in three other statements published under his name he says he was '10 years old,' meaning the move occurred in 1816.

"Next, Smith remarks that 'in about four years after my father’s arrival at Palmyra, he moved with his family into Manchester,' the next township south of Palmyra. This dates the family’s relocation to Manchester to approximately 1820. Later Smith states, '[I]n the second year after our removal to Manchester, there was in the place where we lived an unusual excitement on the subject of religion.' This excitement, he continues, led him to pray in the woods about which church to join. He was answered by the appearance of two heavenly beings, the Father and the Son. According to his account, the religious revival and subsequent vision would have occurred about 1822. However, in the same account Smith specifically dates his vision to “the spring of Eighteen hundred and twenty.” (1)

"Fortunately, we are not limited to Joseph Smith’s history in trying to solve this riddle. From contemporary records we can establish with reasonable certainty the chronology of the Smith family’s relocation to Palmyra and later to Manchester (which was called Farmington at the time) (2). Records described in this chapter help determine when the family was dwelling in the village of Palmyra, when they moved to a log cabin on Stafford Road, and finally when they took up residence on a farm in Manchester. Analysis of these dates and events is important since they provide the historical setting for the revival and the visions that Joseph, Jr. later related experiencing. In addition, Joseph’s mother Lucy Mack Smith dictated in 1844-45 her own history of the Smith family (3). Undoubtedly, her history contains some errors, but it remains an important record of her family’s life during the years they lived in Palmyra and Manchester.

"Lucy first describes her husband Joseph’s preceding the rest of the family in moving from Vermont to Palmyra, New York, sometime after 1815. Leaving Norwich, Vermont, Joseph, Sr. was followed for a short distance by his eldest sons Alvin and Hyrum who watched as their father left alone for Palmyra. He would send for his family when he was ready for them.

"Lucy then expressed considerable joy at the subsequent reunion with her husband. She described the family’s long-range plans after locating to the village of Palmyra:

"'We all now sat down and maturely counciled together as to what course it was best to take, how we should proceed to business in our then destitute circumstances. It was agreed by each one of us that it was most advisable to apply all our energies together and endeavor to obtain a piece of land as this was then a new country and land was low, being in its rude state, but it was almost a time of famine. Wheat was $2.50 per bushel and other things in proportion. How shall we, said my Husband, be able to sustain ourselves and have anything left to buy land? As I had done considerable at painting oil cloth coverings for tables stands etc., I concluded to set up the buisness and if prospered I would try to supply the wants of the family. In this I succeeded so well that it was not long till we not only had an abundance of good and wholesome provision, but I soon began to replenish my household furniture, a fine stock of which I had sacraficed entirely in moving. (4)

"Lucy’s craft enterprise prospered, and the family later contracted for 100 acres in the township of Farmington (now Manchester), immediately south of Palmyra township.

"Joseph, Sr. is first found in Palmyra on the road tax list for April 1817 as a resident on Main Street. (5) New York law established a system for maintaining roads which required that each township be divided into road districts and that all men in each district be required to work on the roads. Each district was under the supervision of a path master or overseer elected at an annual town meeting held on the first Tuesday of April. At the same meeting three commissioners of highways were to be elected. The overseer had sixteen days from the date of his election to list every male living in his district, 21 years or older (a free man) or property owner (a freeholder). Each man devoted at least one day a year to keeping the roads in repair in the district in which he lived. This included clearing brush, stones, and fallen trees; repairing bridges; filling holes; and in the winter clearing paths through the snow. A man could hire someone to serve in his place, but failure to fulfill the obligation in person or by proxy resulted in a fine enforceable by law. (6)

"Joseph ,Sr.’s name first appears in Road District 26 for April 1817, consistent with his having arrived in the latter part of 1816. The town’s 'Record of Roads' shows that District 26 began on Main Street in the center of the village of Palmyra (the so-called 'Four Corners' where four churches now stand) near where the road from Canandaigua intersected and ran west until it crossed into what is now Macedon Township. The district included a small portion of present Walworth Road on the north side of Mud Creek and also a road running south toward the adjoining township of Farmington. (7) This 1817 list basically follows the order in which individual properties were situated as one moves west on Main Street, with Joseph Smith, Sr., listed as living at the west end of Main Street. Joseph ,Sr.’s name occurs again at the same location in District 26 in 1818 and 1819.

"In April 1820, Alvin Smith’s name appears for the first time on the road tax list among the merchants on Main Street. Alvin had turned twenty-one in February 1819 and his absence from the 1819 road list may indicate he had been hired out. Residing on Main Street may represent the cake and beer shop the Smiths reportedly operated in town. (8) However, Joseph, Sr.’s name appears at the end of the list, showing he was now living outside the business district and near the Palmyra-Farmington town line, where the road district ended.

"The Smith family’s cabin would be mentioned two months later in the 'Palmyra Town Book' as 'Joseph Smith's dwelling house,' located about 50 feet north of the line dividing Palmyra from Farmington. It stood about two miles south of Main Street on property owned by Samuel Jennings, a merchant with whom the Smiths did business. When the road survey crew on 13 June 1820 laid out the extension of Stafford Road to join Main Street to the north, they used the cabin as a reference point. The survey reads: 'Minutes of the survey of a public Highway beginning on the south line . . . in the town of Palmyra three rods fourteen links southeas[t] of Joseph Smiths dwelling house.' (9)

"The Smith cabin location is further supported by Orsamus Turner, who in 1818 began work as a young apprentice printer at the office of the local Palmyra Register. He recalled that he first saw the Smith family in the winter of 1819-20 living 'in a rude log house, with but a small spot underbrushed around it' near the town line. (10) This cabin on the outskirts of Palmyra should not be confused with a cabin the family would eventually build on land in nearby Farmington/Manchester.

"Lucy subsequently reported that the family contracted for 100 acres of 'Evertson' land held by the estate of Nicholas Evertson, an attorney in New York City who had acquired considerable land holdings in western New York before his death in 1807. It was June 1820 before Evertson’s executors conveyed to Caspar W. Eddy, a New York City physician, power of attorney to sell his holdings. Eddy traveled to Canandaigua, New York, the seat of Ontario County, and on 14 July 1820 transferred his power of attorney to his friend Zachariah Seymour. (11) Seymour had long been a land agent in the area and was a close associate of Oliver Phelps, who with his partner Nathaniel Gorham had opened a land office in Canandaigua and had instituted the practice of 'articling' for real estate.

"Articling was a way for hard-working but cash-poor pioneers to obtain possession of land by buying on an installment plan. Under this arrangement a schedule of payments was outlined in an 'Articles of Agreement' which stipulated the following conditions: the deed was held by the seller until the final payment was made; if the buyer defaulted he lost all right to the land as well as to any improvements, and the seller could then resell it. (12)

"It was by this method that the Smiths became property owners. The land deed of Squire Stoddard, who in November 1825 acquired the lot adjoining the Smith’s Manchester farm, noted that the north line of his property was 'the south line of lands heretofore articled to Joseph and Alvin Smith.' (13)

"The usual pattern of payment involved breaking the price down into three or more installments, each due a year apart on the original date of the contract. Often the first payment was further broken into easily met segments, such as $10 down, $18 within 90 days, and the balance within the year. When the anniversary date of the contract arrived, the entire second payment was then due. Although title was retained by the seller, the property tax was ordinarily paid by the buyer and was expressly stipulated in some contracts. Sometimes specific requirements were added, such as building a cabin at least eighteen feet by eighteen feet within a year or clearing a specified acreage of land within that period. Often the record of payments was kept on the back of these Articles of Agreement. (14)

"Joseph, Sr. and Alvin would have had to 'article' for their land shortly after July 1820. Joseph, Sr. is listed in the Farmington (Manchester) 1820 census (which was enrolled between 7 August 1820 and 5 February 1821), suggesting that the articling was completed no later than February 1821. The ages of the male family members were: under 10, 2 (William and Don Carlos); 16-26, 2 (Alvin and Hyrum); and over 45, 1 (Joseph, Sr.). Female members were: under 10, 1 (Catherine); 16-26, 1 (Sophronia); and 26-45, 1 (Lucy Mack Smith). Both Joseph, Jr. (age 14) and his younger brother Samuel Harrison (age 12) were missing from the census. (15)

"The new Smith farm encompassed approximately one hundred acres, one third of the original Lot No. 1 in that township. According to the assessment roll for 22 June 1820, the entire three hundred acres of Lot 1 were taxed to the heirs of Nicholas Evertson at that time. In the following year’s assessment (7 July 1821) only two hundred acres were taxed to the Evertson heirs, while the balance was assessed to Joseph Smith. (16)

"After contracting for the farm, Lucy reports, 'In one year’s time we made nearly all of the first payment. The Agent advised us to build a log house on the land and commence clearing it, we did so. It was not long till we had 30 acres ready for cultivation. But the second payment was now coming due and no means as yet of meeting it.” (17) As a result, Alvin left Palmyra to raise 'the second payment and the remmainder of the first,' and returned with 'the necessary amount of money for all except the last payment.' If the Smiths contracted for the land soon after Seymour received his power of attorney to sell it, around 1 August 1820, then the rest of the first payment and all of the second payment would have been paid to Seymour by 1 August 1821. Lucy adds that they were unable to make the third and last payment (which would have been 1 August 1822) because the land agent died. Seymour did indeed die on 2 July 1822, corroborating this part of her story and establishing the fact that the Smiths contracted for the land sometime after mid-July 1820. (18)

"Lucy mentions that 'in one year’s time' after they contracted for the property, the land agent told them they should build a cabin on their land, which 'we did.' However, it cannot be precisely determined from her account when this log house was built. That this refers to their Farmington farm and not the Palmyra property is clear from several key facts.

"First, the Smiths were living in the Palmyra cabin when the road supervisors mentioned it in June 1820 before the Smiths could have contracted for the Farmington land. In addition, William Smith, Joseph Jr.’s younger brother, declared concerning the Farmington/Manchester property, “The improvements made on this farm was first commenced by building a log house at no small expense, and at a later date a frame house at a cost of several hundred dollars.” (19) William would hardly call a cabin built on Samuel Jennings’s land in Palmyra an improvement on their own farm across the line in Manchester.

"From the Palmyra road tax list it is clear that at least Joseph Sr. and Alvin were still living in Palmyra as late as April 1822. It is probable that the Smiths did not move to the Manchester farm until after the summer of 1822. It could not be earlier than July 1821 because Smith family genealogy mentions the birth of a daughter named Lucy, the youngest child of the family. The genealogy specifically states that Lucy was 'born in Palmyra.' (20)

"That some members of the Smith family did not move until after April 1822 is witnessed by the Palmyra road tax list. In 1821, the name of Hyrum Smith, who had turned 21 in February, appeared with Alvin and Joseph Sr. on the Palmyra road tax list. In the April 1822 road tax list, the elder Smith and Alvin again appear, so that as of April 1822 the father and oldest son had not yet moved to their Manchester farm, since they were taxed as Palmyra residents. Hyrum’s name is missing from the 1822 list. This could indicate that other members of the family had been working on their 100 acres and had built a cabin sometime in 1821. It is also possible that Hyrum and perhaps other Smith children had moved there to relieve the crowded conditions in their Palmyra cabin. But it could also indicate that Hyrum had hired out to work on a farm in a neighboring town.

"When the 100 acres first went on the assessment roll in July 1821, taxed to Joseph Sr., the parcel was valued at $700, $7 an acre. This was approximately what uncleared land in the area was selling for at the time. The remaining two hundred acres of Lot No. 1 were taxed to the Evertson heirs at a value of $1,400. (21) The same value appeared in the 29 June 1822 assessment. (22) However, by 24 July 1823 the value of the Smith property had jumped to $1,000. This is an increase of over 40 percent, yet the average property value for the whole township rose only 4 percent that year. This indicates that for the first time a cabin had been built and sufficient land had been cleared so that under New York law the assessed value had to be raised. (23)

"Lucy’s narrative corroborates the assessment roll evidence for an 1822 move to the Manchester property. She introduces events leading up to her son Alvin’s death in late 1823 by saying: 'In the spring after we moved onto the farm we commenced making maple sugar of which we averaged 1000 pounds per year. We then began to make preparations for building a house, as the Land Agent of whom we purchased our farm was dead and we could not make the last payment.' (24)

"Next, Lucy remarks that the third harvest had 'arrived since we opened our new farm.' Wheat harvest in New York fell during the latter part of July. By contracting for the property sometime after mid-July 1820, the harvest for that year was over. The first harvest for the Smiths would have been in the summer of 1821. Accordingly the third harvest would be the summer of 1823. At this point, Lucy relates the story of the angel’s visit informing her son Joseph Jr. of the gold plates. She reports that he attempted that September to obtain the plates but was denied permission. Finally she reports that in November the family succeeded in raising their frame house and had the necessary materials on hand for its completion. However, Alvin’s sudden sickness on 15 November and his death four days later on 19 November 1823 left the house incomplete. Lucy remembered that on his death-bed Alvin told Hyrum, 'I now want you to go on and finish the house.' (25)

"Once it is clear that the frame house was not raised until November 1823, then the increase of $300 in the assessed valuation, four months earlier in July 1823, must refer to some other improvements, including completion of the log cabin on their farm. This conclusion is further confirmed when Lucy introduces events of 1823 with the words, 'In the spring after we moved onto the farm.' This clearly fixes the date of their move to the farm as occurring in 1822.

"Some indirect evidence supporting an 1822 date for the Smiths’ move to their Manchester property comes from the dating of the Palmyra revival. Joseph Jr.’s 1838-39 account reports that the revival occurred the second year after the family’s move to the farm, although it mistakenly places it in 1820.26 Lucy’s account specifically locates the revival after Alvin’s death in 1823. Contemporary evidence shows that the revival occurred during the last months of 1824 and early months of 1825. Thus if the revival, which broke out in 1824, occurred two years after the Smiths moved to their Manchester farm, as Joseph’s history says, then their move would have indeed occurred in 1822."


"1. Willard Bean was one of the first Mormon writers to point out the discrepancies. He reasoned: “If the Family lived four years in Palmyra, and the religious agitation took place two years later, it would place the date of the vision in the Sacred Grove in the spring of 1822.” He adds, '[I]t will readily be seen that our historians have two too many years jammed into the period between the arrival of the Smiths in 1816 and the date of the vision in the spring of 1820' ("ABC History of Palmyra and the Beginning of 'Mormonism'" [Palmyra, New York: Palmyra Courier Company, 1938], p. 35).

"Mormon writers have provided various explanations for these problems. In the 1840s Willard Richards’s insertion into Smith’s manuscript history the words 'or thereabouts' in regard to the arrival in Palmyra--'in my tenth year--or thereabouts--'and with respect to Smith’s vision, when he was 'between 14 and 15 years of age--or thereabouts--'may be the earliest attempt to resolve this problem (Dean C. Jessee, ed. "The Papers of Joseph Smith" [Salt Lake City, Utah: Deseret Book Co., 1989], vol. 1, pp. 269, 274. In 1968, historian Marvin S. Hill reduced the Smith family’s stay in Palmyra to two years. He explained, 'Joseph Smith, Jr. erroneously said four years were passes in Palmyra' (“The Role of Christian Primitivism in the Origin and Development of the Mormon Kingdom, 1830-1844,” Ph.D. dissertation, University of Chicago, 1968, p. 39 and n2). Most Mormon writers follow the 1818 date for the move to Manchester. See Leonard J. Arrington and Davis Bitten, "The Mormon Experience: A History of the Latter-day Saints" [New York, New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 1979], p. 5; and Richard L. Bushman, "Joseph Smith and the Beginnings of Mormonism" [Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 1984], pp. 47-48.

"2. In March 1821 , Farmington was divided in half. The west half retained the name of Farmington, the east half, south of Palmyra, became Burt for just over a year and then Manchester on 16 April 1822.

"3. Lucy Mack Smith, "Preliminary Manuscript (MS)," “History of Lucy Smith,” p. 40. This manuscript was dictated to Martha Jane Coray and the original is in archives, historical department, Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, Salt Lake City, Utah (hereafter "LDS archives"). The page numbering used in our book corresponds to a typed transcript in "LDS archives" and to page numbers in the photocopy of the manuscript. Where the manuscript has lacunae, the first publication of Lucy’s history, "Biographical Sketches of Joseph Smith the Prophet and His Progenitors for Many Generations" [Liverpool: published for Orson Pratt by S. W. Richards, 1853], is used. Orson Pratt used a manuscript that had been revised by Martha and Howard Coray from the earlier preliminary manuscript. Extracts were inserted in this revision from the “History of Joseph Smith” published in the "Times and Seasons" (Nauvoo, Illinois).

"In the notes that follow, the "Preliminary Manuscript" is cited where available, the second citation will be to the first publication of it, shortened to "Biographical Sketches" and the third citation to the current edition titled, "History of Joseph Smith By His Mother, Lucy Mack Smith" [Salt Lake City, Utah: Bookcraft, 1958], shortened to "History of Joseph Smith".

"4. Lucy Mack Smith, "Preliminary MS," pp. 42-43: "Biographical Sketches (1853), p. 70; "History of Joseph Smith" (1958), pp. 63-64.

5. "Palmyra Highway Tax Record," Palmyra, New York, Copies of "Old Village Records, 1793-1867," microfilm #812869, LDS Family History Library, Salt Lake City, Utah; microfilm 900, reel #60 at Harold B. Lee Library, Brigham Young University, Provo, Utah. A copy is also in the King’s Daughters Library, Palmyra, New York. The record is labeled at the beginning, “A Copy of the Several Lists of the Men's Names Liable to Work on the Highways in the Town of Palmyra in the Year 1804.” The original record cannot be located at the present time, and a typescript made by Doris Nebitt is the only copy. Richard Palmer of the Palmyra Historical Society suggested that the original may have been destroyed when in about 1976 someone took the wrong boxes to the town dump.

"The post office serving the Smith family was in Palmyra. Joseph Smith, Sr. is included in a list of unclaimed letters at the Palmyra Post Office on 31 December 1818. See "Palmyra Register," vol. 2 (13 January 1819), p. 4.

"6. New York Legislature, "Laws of the State of New York" (Albany: H.C. Southwick, 1813), vol. 2, pp. 125, 128-29, 271-75, 309. The office of Overseer or Highways was not to be taken lightly. The overseer could be fined $10 for each time he failed to notify those required to work on the roads and for each delinquency in performing any other task assigned him. Two weeks prior to the town meeting the following year, he was required to certify what work had been done, by whom, and to report anyone who had not fulfilled his obligation.

"7. Palmyra, New York, “Record of Roads of the Town of Palmyra, 1793-1901,” pp. 94-95, 104; microfilm copy in the State Library, Albany, New York, Film 74-29-1.

"8. Pomeroy Tucker, "The Origin, Rise and Progress of Mormonism" [New York: D. Appleton & Co., 1867], p. 12.

"9. “Palmyra Town Book (Old Town Record [1793-1870])," p. 221. Also recorded in “Record of Roads (1793-1901)," p. 120, Town Clerk’s Office, Palmyra, New York. The “Record of Roads” book reads “dwelling home,” while the “Town Book” reads “dwelling house.” Both are recopied from a now-missing original road record book, but the latter reading was transcribed earlier.

"A 1982 excavation confirmed a dwelling site at this location. See Dale L. Berge, “Archaeological Investigations at the Joseph Smith, Sr., Log Dwelling, Palmyra, New York, Interim Report” [Salt Lake City, Utah: Historical Department, Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, 1982], p. 15; and Dale L. Berge, “Archaeological Work at the Smith Log House,” in "Ensign," no. 15 (August 1985), p. 24.

"The assertion that 'the Smiths inadvertently built their cabin on the Palmyra side' (Donald L. Enders, 'A Snug Log House,' in "Ensign," vol. 15 [August 1985], p. 16) instead of on the Manchester property is unlikely. The Palmyra merchant who owned the property on which the home stood, and who knew Smith and extended him credit, would hardly have allowed Smith to mistakenly built on his land. (See Samuel Jennings, "Estate Papers," 5 January 1822, Ontario County Historical Society, Canandaigua, New York, p. 8, line 23, and p. 10, line 10, for Joseph Smith Sr.’s debts of $11.50 and $1 respectively at the time of Jennings’s death on 1 September 1821).

"Pomeroy Tucker wrote that the land the Smith family lived on was included in the farm of Seth T. Chapman who owned the Manchester property at the time Tucker wrote his book ("Origin, Rise and Progress of Mormonism," p. 13).

"10. O[rsamus] Turner, "History of the Pioneer Settlement of Phelps and Gorham’s Purchase [Rochester, New York: William Alling, 1851)," pp. 212-13, 400. This log house was actually in the township of Palmyra.

"11. For the probate of Nicholas Everson’s estate, see County of New York, Manhattan Borough, Surrogate’s Court, Wills," vol. 47, pp. 7-11. On the power of attorney, see "Miscellaneous Records," vol. C, pp. 342-44, 347-48, Ontario County Records Center and Archives, Canandaigua, New York.

"12. Colonel Zachariah Seymour, a Revolutionary War veteran, served under Colonel Oliver Phelps. Seymour acted as land agent in Canandaigua, New York, for school lands owned by Connecticut as well as for private individuals (see "Ontario County, Deeds," vol. 17, p. 485; and "Ontario Repository," 4 April 1820, p. 1). On Oliver Phelps’s 'articling' innovation, see John W. Barber and Henry Howe, "Historical Collections of the State of New York" [New York, New York: S. Tuttle, 1842], pp. 406-407, reprinting an extract from the "Rochester Directory" of 1827. Seymour served as co-executor of Phelps’s estate. A number of Seymour’s papers are in the Phelps’s papers both at the State Library in Albany and the Ontario County Historical Society in Canandaigua.

"13. Deed recorded in "Deed Liber," vol. 44, p. 220, Ontario County Records Center and Archives, Canandaigua, New York.

"14. An example of a printed "Articles of Agreement" form used by Seymour, located in the Ontario County Historical Society holdings, is for property in Burt (Manchester), dated 31 May 1821. Examples of printed forms requiring the payment of the assessment tax, building a cabin, clearing acreage and the reversion clause can be found in the State Library, Albany, New York, among the Phelps papers.

"15. See "Ontario Repository," 8 August 1820, p. 3; “Census of 1820" History and Growth of the United States Census" [Washington, D.C., 1900[, pp. 134, 137; U.S. 1820 Census Records, Farmington, Ontario County, New York, microfilm #193717, p. 318, Family #524, LDS Family History Library. The "Palmyra Register," 16 August 1820, asked residents to help prepare the census information themselves.

?16. Farmington, New York, ?Assessment Roll," 7 July 1821, [[/ 25, 32, Ontario County Records Center and Archives, Canandaigua, New York.

"17. Lucy Mack Smith, "Preliminary MS," p. 43. The statement in her book, completed by the Corays, reads, 'In a year, we … erected a log house' ("Biographical Sketches" [1853], p. 70; "History of Joseph Smith" [1958], p. 64). Whether this is Lucy’s clarification or the Corays’ understanding of her original draft is impossible to determine. In her manuscript Lucy stated: 'So that in two years from the time we entered Palmyra, strangers destitute of friends, home or employment. We were able to settle ourselves upon our own land [in] a snug comfortable though humble habitation built and neatly furnished by our industry'("Preliminary MS," p. 44; "Biographical Sketches" [1853], p 71; "History of Joseph Smith" [1958], p. 65). The two-year time period after arriving in Palmyra mentioned by Lucy appears to be an inaccuracy on her part.

"18. Lucy Mack Smith, "Preliminary MS," pp. 43, 45-46. On Seymour’s death, see the "Walter Hubbell Papers" [Princeton University Libraries, Princeton, New Jersey]: letter from Henry Penfield to James Kent, 8 August 1826, p. 1; and his eulogy in the "Ontario Repository," 16 July 1822, a reprint of the previous week’s "Ontario Messenger."

"19. “Notes Written on ‘Chamber’s Life of Joseph Smith.’ by William Smith,” about 1875, typescript, p. 17, "LDS archives." See Richard L. Anderson, “Joseph Smith’s New York Reputation Reappraised,” Brigham Young University Studies, no. 10 (Spring 1970), p. 314. Russell R. Rich in the same issue (p. 257) maintained that the Smiths built their cabin on the Manchester property.

"20. “Genealogy,” in "Manuscript History," vol. A-1, p. 10 [separate section], reads, 'Lucy Smith, born in Palmyra, Ontario County. New York. July 18 1821.' See Jessee, "Papers of Joseph Smith," vpl. 1, p. 19. Lucy received a patriarchal blessing from her father on 9 December 1834 at the age of 13. Her birth date and place were given as 18 July 1821 at Palmyra, Ontario County, New York, in "Patriarchal Blessing Book," vol. 1, p. 8 and recopied in vol. 2, p. 14, "LDS archives." See Milton V. Backman, Jr., "A Profile of Latter-day Saints of Kirtland, Ohio, and Members of Zion’s Camp, 1830-1839" [Provo, Utah, 1982], p. 112. Lucy is incorrectly listed as '(wife of Joseph, Sr.).' "William Smith on Mormonism "[Lamoni, Indiana: Herald Stream Book and Job Office, 1883], p. 5, gives 1821 as the date for the move to Manchester.

"21. For examples of land prices, ranging from $3 to $10 an acre, see the Phelps papers in Albany, New York; cf. Fawn M. Brodie, "No Man Knows My History" [New York, New York: A. Knopf, 1945], p. 10.

"22. Manchester, New York, "Assessment Roll," 29 June 1822, p. 16, Ontario County Records Center and Archives, Canandaigua, New York.

"23. Manchester, New York, "Assessment Roll," 24 July 1823, p. 17. The 4% increase was arrived at by comparing the dollar value per acre of property from 1820 to 1823 and averaging the increase shown in 1823. On increase in evaluation, see "Laws of the State of New York," vol. 2, p. 510.

"24. Lucy Mack Smith, "Preliminary MS," pp. 45-46; "Biological Sketches (1853)," p. 72; "History of Joseph Smith" (1958), p. 66. William Smith wrote that the family moved into the township of Manchester and '[h]ere my father purchased 100 acres of new land heavily timbered and in the clearing up of this land which was mostly done in the form of fire' (“Notes Written on “Chamber’s Life of Joseph Smith,’” p. 20).

"25. Lucy says that the frame house was still being built when Alvin died but has the year as 1822, which is incorrect ("Preliminary MS," pp. 45-46, 51-52; see "Biographical Sketches" [1853], p. 87; "History of Joseph Smith" [1958], p. 85). She gives Alvin’s death variously as 1822 and 1824, but his tombstone shows he died on 19 November 1823 at the age of 25 years. Early sources for the death of Alvin are the following:

"1. Gravestone in the General John Swift Memorial Cemetery, Palmyra, New York, inscribed: 'In memory of /Alvin. Son of Joseph/ & Lucy Smith. Who/ died Nov. 19. 1823./ in the 25. year of/ his age.” (See photograph in Alma P. Burton, "Mormon Trail from Vermont to Utah" [Salt Lake City, Utah: Deseret Book Company, 1966], p. 35).

"2. Day Book of Dr. Gain C. Robinson, 20 November 1823, the day after Alvin’s death: 'Joseph Smith visit attend 300 [$3.00],” possibly indicating his charge for assisting in the autopsy of Alvin Smith (Gain Robinson Day Book [21 July 1823 to 2 June 1826], King’s Daughters Library, Palmyra, New York; microfilm #833096 at LDS Family History Library).

"3. "Wayne Sentinel" vol. 2 (29 September 1824), p. 3, prints an advertisement placed by Joseph, Sr. dated 'September 25th, 1824,' stating he had exhumed Alvin’s body to refute rumors that it had been removed for dissection.

"26. "Manuscript History," Book A-1, p. 1; "JS-H," vol. 1, p. 5, "Pearl of Great Price"; Jessee, "Papers of Joseph Smith," vol. 1, p. 269."

("Inventing Mormonism," by H. Michael Marquardt and Wesley P. Walters, "Chapter 1: The Move to Palmyra and Manchester, New York," pp. 1-9, at:


You can nail the lid on Mormonmism's biggest fib.

Edited 17 time(s). Last edit at 11/26/2013 12:31AM by steve benson.

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Posted by: madalice ( )
Date: November 25, 2013 06:49PM

The grove that's there now certainly didn't exist when the Smith's were around. None of the trees are that old.

Never mind that. It's a grove, and it's close to the rebuilt house that no longer existed. The entire story including props was re-written and re-built to further the fairytale of mormonism.

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Posted by: Chump ( )
Date: November 25, 2013 06:54PM

Rough Stone Rolling says that the Smith family wasn't even living on their property in the spring of 1820. They were living on a neighbor's property while they prepared the property, but the sale didn't even go through until the summer of 1820. As I mentioned in my other post, there's also a chance that Joseph was hired out and wasn't even living near the "sacred grove" in the spring of 1820.

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Posted by: madalice ( )
Date: November 25, 2013 07:53PM

i've read that too. The church concocted a big fat fairy tale with a tiny big of truth to it. If I remember right, that's how one knows they're dealing with Satan.

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Posted by: steve benson ( )
Date: November 25, 2013 08:58PM

According to Manchester census records for that year, Joseph Smith, Jr. wasn't listed as living in the Palmyra farm household of Joseph Smith, Sr. Further evidence notes that the Smiths did not move to their Palymra farm until 1822.

So much for Joseph Smith's "Sacred Grove," Palmyra-based "First Vision" of 182I.

It's better described as the "Big Illusion."

Edited 4 time(s). Last edit at 11/25/2013 11:36PM by steve benson.

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Posted by: breedumyung ( )
Date: November 25, 2013 08:43PM

Missing Mormon Stuff:

Sacred Grove
Gold Plates
Hill Cumorah
BOM Artifacts

I smell a rat...

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Posted by: madalice ( )
Date: November 25, 2013 08:47PM

Don't forget that they've NEVER had a real prophet either.

Just a lot of made up rituals and lies to control people and con them out of their money for generations. Lots of fear and threats injected to keep the members in line. Nothing has changed.

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Posted by: thingsithink ( )
Date: November 25, 2013 10:07PM

Man, nothing gets by you, eh? :)

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Posted by: steve benson ( )
Date: November 25, 2013 10:11PM

. . . through the following observation:

"'Rough Stone Rolling': Did Joseph Even Live Near the Sacred Grove in 1820?

"I just started reading 'Rough Stone Rolling' (Thank you, Steve). Chapter 2 talks about how Joseph Sr. and sons hired out for haying, harvesting, digging wells, etc. It says, 'When the census taker came to the Smiths in 1820, Joseph Jr. was not listed, probably because he was living elsewhere earning during the growing season.' So, there's a possibility that Joseph wasn't even living near the "sacred grove" when the supposed first vision happened? Does anyone have more info on this?, when the census taker(s) came through Palmyra, etc.?"

("'Rough Stone Rolling': Did Joseph Even Live Near the Sacred Grove in 1820?," by poster "Chump," on "Recovery from Mormonism" discussion board, 25 November 2013, at:,1092606P

Edited 2 time(s). Last edit at 11/25/2013 10:14PM by steve benson.

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Posted by: weeder ( )
Date: November 26, 2013 09:20AM

Every single acre of what the church calls "Sacred" in that grove has at one point been put to the plow and crops planted (for a great number of years BTW).

How do I know this: my kids made the discovery without even realizing it. I was TBM at the time and my kids had gone tearing off into the sacred grove (very un-spiritually I might add) -- so I was a bit ticked off.

When we finally caught up with them they were all sitting on a mound of rocks (3 or 4 feet high). I went and sat down with them and we sat there looking out at the forest I noticed parallel lines of stones stretching out from the pile we were sitting on. Indeed this pile was only the intersection.

Being somewhat of an armchair archaeologist I knew exactly what I was looking at ... the stones that accumulate at the edges of plowed fields as the the land is worked ... and the more time the field is plowed the higher these boarders of rocks grow.

With my kids that day we traced ALL these tell-tale signs of working the land and I can assure every one that at one point every single acre of all that is designated as "Sacred" has at one point been plowed and worked as farmland.

The "Sacred" grove became a lot less "sacred" to me that day.

The senior missionaries on duty that day were -- surprise -- in complete denial of the very evidences we'd found and insisted there were areas of untilled (defiled) soil there.

My kids and I knew better.

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Posted by: forbiddencokedrinker ( )
Date: November 26, 2013 09:38AM

Wait, are you saying that the land in question has been frequently covered in bull manure?

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Posted by: weeder ( )
Date: November 26, 2013 10:24AM

... of that day may have preceded the essential methods of replenishment of the soil.

From google/wiki gods we have this: "...John Bennet Lawes, an English entrepreneur, began to experiment on the effects of various manures on plants growing in pots in 1837, and a year or two later the experiments were extended to crops in the field..."

So maybe sacredness isn't covered in cow shiz. ;-)

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Posted by: forbiddencokedrinker ( )
Date: November 26, 2013 11:07PM

Forget not the ox that pulls the plow, fertilizing as he goes.

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Posted by: steve benson ( )
Date: November 26, 2013 04:17PM

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Posted by: anonow ( )
Date: November 26, 2013 04:37PM

Interesting that there is a Joseph Smith Jr living north of Palmyra in the town of Ontario at the time of the 1820 census, but I suppose that could be another Joseph Smith Jr.

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Posted by: Facsimile 3 ( )
Date: November 26, 2013 06:15PM

Do the 1820 Census records include Joseph Smith Jr's age, or at least a date range?

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Posted by: anonow ( )
Date: November 26, 2013 06:27PM

"Do the 1820 Census records include Joseph Smith Jr's age, or at least a date range?"

No. And the census report is strange. The town of Ontario is actually in Wayne county; so what is it doing in the Ontario county census? I am guessing the county borders and/or names have change since then?

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Posted by: karin ( )
Date: November 26, 2013 11:32PM

Ha! I know what the woods in New York & southern Ontario look like in the spring and unless he meant late may or june, I wouldn't want to kneel on the ground as it is all wet and soggy from the march snow, april showers and other weather.

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Posted by: karin ( )
Date: November 26, 2013 11:57PM

I could say- being generous- that Joey just missed the year by a couple, esp. after so much time had passed and he was just guessing, giving accurate info (like revivals) but goofing up on the date.

BUT as this was going to be an important date- establishing his claim as prophet and being revered down the line, you'd think that he'd try a little harder getting the dates right- asking his mom at the very least.

If he was making things up as he went along, he might be vague because he wasn't thinking that far into the future, when people were doing more with their evenings than resting for tomorrow's field clearing or farming.

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Posted by: Neil Armstrong ( )
Date: November 27, 2013 12:01AM

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Posted by: ificouldhietokolob ( )
Date: July 31, 2017 09:44AM

Don't worry, Neil, millions (billions?) of eyewitnesses, including me, can tell you not only the year, but the exact day and local hour.

Unlike the supposedly most-momentous-ever-visit-of-god-and-his-son.

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Posted by: karin ( )
Date: November 27, 2013 12:04AM

and walked to his family's land and had his prayer?

NO! According to your info, the Smiths didn't get the land until after July 1820. The next spring was 1821.

But again, do we give Joe a break for being a couple of seasons off? Had he said his prayer was in the Summer, 1820 could still be a logical conclusion.

You'd think a prayer like that would stick in his mind along with what the trees were like (were there leaves on the trees? was the ground full of leaves?) and what ever you were kneeling in would have been remembered years later.

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Posted by: cynthus ( )
Date: December 11, 2013 04:52PM

Your comment reminded me of a story I heard in Germany. For centuries every few years four boys were picked to mark the corners of the land that belonged to the city (stadt). The mayor would take the boy to his corner and beat the heck out of him until he was lying on the ground. He did it to the other three boys at the other corners. The boys/men never forgot where the end of the borders were ever--

So yea-- in that respect, I can see that a young boy should remember the exact date, time, and place--

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Posted by: Jesus ( )
Date: November 27, 2013 12:08AM

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Posted by: karin ( )
Date: November 27, 2013 12:24AM

Also, why you can't remember how to spell cross, is for 2 reasons:

1. English isn't your first language, so go easy on yourself, jesus

2. The PTSD probably kicks in whenever you think about that experience.

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Posted by: Senoritalamanita ( )
Date: December 11, 2013 05:06PM

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Posted by: cynthus ( )
Date: December 11, 2013 04:48PM

Farmers would clear cut the land so I wouldn't even expect that the "grove" would still be there. I have wondered (if it was true) that they would leave such a sacred place. Oops there I go thinking again--

Anyway I wanted to say that as I get older I have troubles remembering the right year for the right experience. So I am not surprised-- deception or memory loss-- who knows. Although if you look at it another way, lies are pretty hard to keep straight.

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Posted by: GNPE ( )
Date: July 31, 2017 12:13AM

Yet another distraction away from Honesty, Kindness, & Respect for others...

The basic elements of Christ-Like Living just don't appeal to most LDS :(

So, the LDS "church", aka LDS, Inc. gives the sheeple what it thinks they want!

"One Hand washes the other"!

Edited 2 time(s). Last edit at 07/31/2017 02:29AM by GNPE.

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Posted by: cludgie ( )
Date: July 31, 2017 07:50AM

"Manus manum lavat." Still so many Latin sayings pinging around in my head these many years (55) later.

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Posted by: cludgie ( )
Date: July 31, 2017 07:49AM

Can't they just search for the part where there is some burnt vegetation from Heavenly Father's jet blast?

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Posted by: snowball ( )
Date: July 31, 2017 12:01PM

Too bad. I have a dream of one day peeing on the site.

Then I think about being chased by the "Mormon fuzz" and I think it's not worth the trouble.

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Posted by: rhgc ( )
Date: July 31, 2017 04:31PM

The site is most likely in Macedon a very short way in from Palmyra (like less than 75 yards) as one can note by looking at a topographical map such as Google Earth. Of course, there was really no such vision. The reason for the spot was that it had to be on a hill or at least a rising because it would be less fit for crops. Also one notes that it had a clearing - but one that was not caused by cutting for crops. Such a description is not in keeping with the present "exact" site, but while Palmyra is from a town in Syria and has some general meaning to religion (although a big site for paganism), Macedon was more considered a name related to Greece and Alexander the Great. A good name but not for JS. But JS was not exactly a civil engineer who knew where the town line was and the description fits a knoll shortly within Macedon - a stone's throw if you will.

There are salient reasons not to actually locate the site. A person who I am writing about figured it out.

Edited 2 time(s). Last edit at 07/31/2017 05:26PM by rhgc.

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Posted by: steve benson ( )
Date: July 31, 2017 11:05PM

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Posted by: rhgc ( )
Date: August 01, 2017 09:22AM

It does not change the altitude which indicates the "place". The rate of drop is important as to plowing.

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Posted by: steve benson ( )
Date: August 01, 2017 11:48PM

The closer you get to them, the more slippery they become and move deeper into the earth. Where's a peepstone when you need one?

The Slippery Grove. It has a nice ring to it.

Edited 2 time(s). Last edit at 08/01/2017 11:49PM by steve benson.

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Posted by: rhgc ( )
Date: August 04, 2017 06:10PM

Look forward to meeting you someday.

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Posted by: GNPE ( )
Date: August 04, 2017 07:07PM

Also, they don't know THE DATE of the "Heavenly Visit"

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Posted by: rhgc ( )
Date: August 04, 2017 07:36PM

The entire thing may have been a recurring dream with multiple endings which he remembered differently from time to time. After all, he had a very good imagination. Anyway, JS probably envisioned a particular spot - though no such happening occurred.

Gee, I recall a recurring dream in my youth in which I entered into a fourth dimension...and it changed from time to time. But the beginning point was almost always the same.

Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 08/04/2017 07:37PM by rhgc.

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Posted by: steve benson ( )
Date: August 04, 2017 07:59PM

What's the difference between LSD and LDS?

One sends you on a trip.

The other sends you on a mission.

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