Far West (Caldwell County), Missouri
Area where Joseph Smith lived
Sections 113, 114, 115, 117, 118, 119, and 120
March 1838 to July 1838
"For thus shall my church be called in the last days, even The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints."
Doctrine and Covenants 115:4
"And this shall be the beginning of the tithing of my people.
In the early hours of 26 April 1839, the Apostles met at this temple cornerstone according to prophecy, ordained Wilford Woodruff and George A. Smith Apostles, and prepared to depart on a mission to England.
"And after that, those who have thus been tithed shall pay one-tenth of all their interest annually; and this shall be a standing law unto them forever, for my holy priesthood, saith the Lord."
Doctrine and Covenants 119:3-4
The cornerstones for the Far West Temple were first laid at a patriotic celebration on 4 July 1838. In October of that year, the infamous extermination order by Governor Boggs initiated the forced expulsion of the church from Missouri. Far West was virtually abandoned when the apostles gathered here on 26 April 1839. They re-laid the temple cornerstones on that occasion.
Key Events
The cornerstones were laid for a temple during a large patriotic celebration on 4 July 1838. On that occasion, Sidney Rigdon gave a forceful discourse called the "Salt Sermon," wherein he called for apostates and dissenters who still lived among Church members to stop initiating persecution and mob action, and move away from the Saints.
Twelve Apostles were called to go on a mission over the great waters. They were commanded to leave on the mission from the temple site in April 1839.
In early July 1838, Joseph received a letter from his brother Don Carlos Smith, who was leading a group of impoverished Church members to Far West from Kirtland. The nearly destitute group was about 500 miles from Far West. Soon after receiving the letter, the Prophet prayed "O Lord! Show unto thy servant how much thou requirest of the properties of thy people for a tithing." He received a revelation in reply (Doctrine and Covenants 119). Tithing funds were used to assist needy Church members and finance the growth of the Church.
Joseph Smith and other Church leaders were captured by a mob in Far West. They were illegally sentenced to be shot, held captive in Richmond Jail, and then moved to Liberty Jail. During this time, Church members were being driven from Missouri by violent mobs.
General Alexander Doniphan saves the life of Joseph and other Church leaders by refusing to execute them at the order of mob leaders in the military.
After the Church had been driven from Missouri, the Apostles met on the temple site to fulfill a commandment, then left on a mission overseas.
Far West was a sparsely settled wilderness in 1836. Two years later, its population was about 5,000. Most residents were Church members, who were forced from the area by mobs in 1838-1839.
Words of Joseph Smith
"July 4 [1838] - The day was spent in celebrating the Declaration of Independence of the United States of America, and also by the Saints making a "Declaration of Independence" from all mobs and persecutions which have been inflicted upon them, time after time, until they could bear it no longer; having been driven by ruthless mobs and enemies of truth from their homes, and having had their property confiscated, their lives exposed, and their all Jeopardized by such barbarous Conduct. The corner stones of the House of the Lord, agreeable to the Commandments of the Lord unto us, given April 26, 1838, were laid." (History of the Church 3:41)
"No unhallowed hand can stop the work from progressing . . . the truth of God will go forth boldly, nobly, and independent, till it has penetrated every continent, visited every clime, swept every country, and sounded in every ear, till the purposes of God shall be accomplished, and the Great Jehovah shall say the work is done." (History of the Church 4:540)
Joseph Smith lived in Far West from March through October 1838. He had property in several parts of the city. Today, the area of Far West is once again a sparsely settled wilderness.
Copyright 2005 Steve Mortensen. All rights reserved.