Around 1818 the Joseph Smith Sr. family built and moved into a log house in the woods several miles south of the village of Palmyra, New York. On the 100-acre property that became the family farm, young Joseph and his brothers and sisters learned to work hard, love each other, and do as they were commanded of God. The Smith family read together from the Bible and "always had family prayers"1 in this home.
Fourteen-year-old Joseph was living here at the time of his First Vision in the spring of 1820. Three-and-a-half years later, in the upstairs bedroom where he and his brothers slept, Joseph prayed to know his standing before God. The angel Moroni appeared and taught the young prophet about a restoration of divine truth and authority in which he would participate.2
Most of the family moved into a new frame home on the farm in 1825. Five years later, they all moved away from Manchester. When the Church purchased this property in 1930, the log home was no longer standing. A replica was rebuilt on the original site and dedicated by President Gordon B. Hinckley in 1998.
Joseph Smith Quotes
I was born . . . of goodly parents who spared no pains . . . instructing me in the Christian religion . . . and being in indigent circumstances [we] were obliged to labor hard for the support of a large family, having nine children. And as it required the exertions of all that were able to render any assistance for the support of the family, therefore, we were deprived of the benefit of an education. Suffice it to say I was merely instructed in reading and writing and the ground rules of arithmetic, which constituted my whole literary acquirements. (In Personal Writings of Joseph Smith, comp. Dean C. Jessee (2002), 10.)
While . . . in the act of calling upon God, I discovered a light appearing in my room, which continued to increase until the room was lighter than at noonday, when immediately a personage appeared at my bedside, standing in the air, for his feet did not touch the floor.
He had on a loose robe of most exquisite whiteness. . . . His whole person was glorious beyond description, and his countenance truly like lightning. . . .
He called me by name, and said unto me that he was a messenger sent from the presence of God to me, and that his name was Moroni; that God had a work for me to do. . . .
He said there was a book deposited, written upon gold plates, giving an account of the former inhabitants of this continent, and the source from whence they sprang. He also said that the fulness of the everlasting Gospel was contained in it, as delivered by the Savior to the ancient inhabitants. (Joseph Smith—History 1:30–34.)
Orlando Saunders, Neighbor of the Smith Family
When asked in his old age how well he had known Joseph Smith, Saunders replied: "Oh! Just as well as one could . . . ; he has worked for me many a time, and been about my place a great deal. He stopped with me many a time, when through here, after they went west to Kirtland; he was always a gentleman when about my place." Of the Smith family, Saunders reported: "They were very good people. Young Joe (as we called him then), has worked for me, and he was a good worker; they all were." "They were the best family in the neighborhood in case of sickness; one was at my house nearly all the time when my father died. . . . I always thought them honest. They were owing me some money when they left here; that is, the old man and Hyrum did, and Martin Harris. One of them came back in about a year and paid me." (In Richard L. Anderson, "Joseph Smith's New York Reputation Reappraised," Brigham Young University Studies, spring 1970, 309–10.)
William B. Smith, Apostle, 1835–1845
We all had the most implicit confidence in what he said. . . . Father and mother believed him, why should not the children? I suppose if he had told crooked stories about other things we might have doubted his word about the plates, but Joseph was a truthful boy. That father and mother believed his report and suffered persecution for that belief shows that he was truthful. No, sir, we never doubted his word for one minute. (B. H. Roberts, A Comprehensive History of the Church, 1:40.)
- D&C Section 2 —
Sept. 21, 1823. Confident of obtaining a divine manifestation, young Joseph Smith prayed for forgiveness of his sins and a knowledge of his standing before God.
- D&C Section 19 —
Mar. 1830. Martin Harris had mortgaged his farm for the printing of the Book of Mormon. He asked Joseph Smith for reassurance and direction from the Lord.
- D&C Section 22 —
Apr. 1830. People who had previously been baptized wanted to know if they needed to be rebaptized in order to join the Church.
- D&C Section 23 —
Apr. 1830. Oliver Cowdery, Hyrum Smith, Samuel H. Smith, Joseph Smith Sr., and Joseph Knight Sr. were anxious to know their duties in the Lord’s newly organized Church.
Online Resources at LDS.org
- D&C 2
- D&C 19:13–14, 23–24
- D&C 23:3
- Joseph Smith—History 1:28–50
- "A Period of Preparation, 1823–29" – Church History in the Fulness of Times Student Manual (Church Educational System Manual, 2003), 37–51
Online Resources at BYU
- "Awakenings in the Burned-over District: New Light on the Historical Setting of the First Vision" –
Study of the evidence of the revival atmosphere in and around Palmyra which inspired Joseph's prayer and vision.Milton V. Backman Jr., Brigham Young University Studies 9, no. 3 (1969): 301–20