As we anticipated going on this trip, I decided I needed to prepare a little and found the book Church History in the Fulness of Times, which is available from Amazon free for your Ipad or kindle. Even before we had gone one mile, my heart began to fill with love for early saints. Names that I had read in the Doctrine & Covenants suddenly had context and meaning.
I was especially taken by the history of Kirtland. I know we are visiting Ohio at an idyllic time of year, when the temperatures are comfortable, the trees aflame, the apples crisp and pumpkin patches around every corner, and that the winters are different, but still my heart breaks at the loss. I can't imagine the disappointment Joseph must have had in those that turned against him and the church - the division amongst those who had worshipped together, seen angels and glorious manifestations. It was the best and the worst of times.
Amidst all this there were men like Isaac Morley. I love Isaac Morley. He was part of Sidney Rigdon’s congregation - a generous man providing space for others to live communally on his property. He was prepared when the missionaries came and was converted with Sidney Rigdon and the rest of his congregation. Isaac’s magnanimity continued, providing shelter and help to many newly minted Mormons, including a home for Joseph and Emma. A remarkable vision of the Father and the Son took place in the schoolhouse on his property.
A kind missionary couple, the Horsleys told us about Isaac Morley and his family. We walked the leaf-soft trail up the hill that once held many log homes and the school. I was struck by all Isaac gave up, a prosperous farm and land and then realized that all of it was gone, sunk back into the earth. Trees have grown back over cleared land, leaves cover foundations, logs have crumbled into dust. Isaac’s mansion was built sacrifice by sacrifice in another place where moth and rust will not corrupt it.
Our next stop was the Johnson farm, where we were surprised and happy to see old friends, and Richard and Diana Heward, who lived in Snowflake for a time. They gave us a sweet and spiritual experience as we learned about the Johnsons and their part in blessing the church and its people.
Kirkland would be a fabulous place to serve a mission.
This is the original door and hardware at the stairway that lead up to the room Joseph and Emma stayed in for a time at the Johnson home.
The Johnson home is substantial and beautiful, set amidst green pastures and apple orchards.
They even had a couch!
In this bedroom with a brightly painted floor, or the one above, Joseph Smith was dragged from the trundle bed where he lay with one of their sick twins. Emma was in the bed with the other baby. Joseph was dragged down the steps, over the frozen ground, beaten, tarred and feathered. I kept imagining how hard it would be to get the tar off and dress the wounds.