Zion's Camp provided the Church with much of its future leadership. Nine of the first 12 Apostles participated in Zion's Camp, as did all of the First Quorum of Seventy.
While traveling in Zion's Camp, Joseph Smith prophesied that because some "had been unwilling to listen to my words, but had rebelled, God had decreed that sickness should come upon the camp, and if they did not repent and humble themselves before God they should die." Soon nearly 70 were struck by cholera and 14 died. A covenant of obedience stayed the plague (History of the Church, 2:106–7).
A large mob intent on destroying Zion's Camp gathered on the other side of the river. After attempts to attack Zion's Camp were thwarted, a member of the mob said of the storm, "if that was the way God fought for the Mormons, they might as well go about their business" (History of the Church, 2:105).
By 1838, many Saints left Ohio to join with those driven from their homes in Missouri. They gathered in the wilderness area of Caldwell County in northwest Missouri and built the city of Far West as a temporary place of refuge. Joseph Smith and his family arrived in March 1838. The following month, God revealed to the Prophet that Far West was located on holy ground, and the Saints were commanded to build a temple here (See D&C 115:7–8). Cornerstones for the temple were laid during a celebration in early July.
On April 26, 1839, a large stone was rolled up near the southeast corner for the temple. The cornerstones are still visible today to visitors of the site.
Far West was a sparsely settled wilderness in 1836. Two years later, its population grew to about 5,000. Most residents were Church members, who were forced from the area by mobs in 1838–1839.
Joseph Smith was unjustly confined in Liberty Jail from December 1838 to April 1839 along with several other Church leaders. Joseph suffered helplessly, knowing that the Latter-day Saints were being driven from Missouri under an "extermination order" from the governor. The Prophet and his companions were imprisoned in a rough stone dungeon measuring 14 by 14 feet, with a ceiling just over 6 feet high. The six prisoners suffered from winter weather, filthy conditions, hunger, and sickness.
"I have been under the grimace of a guard night and day, and within the walls grates and screeching iron doors, of a lonesome, dark, dirty prison. With emotions known only to God, do I write this letter, the contemplations, of the mind under these circumstances, defies the pen, or tongue, or Angels, to describe, or paint, to the human being, who never experienced what we experience" (Personal Writings of Joseph Smith, 463 spelling modernized).