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A Young Folks' History of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints online

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A Young Folks' History




"_We have heard with our ears, O God, our fathers have told us,
what Work thou didst in their days, in the time of old_" - _Psalm

Published by the
Salt Lake City. Utah

_Copyright, 1889,
By Nephi Anderson

Copyright, 1916,
By Joseph F. Smith,
For the Deseret Sunday School Union_.

To Parents and Teachers.

Studying the history of our country creates patriotism and engenders
loyalty. For the same reason, a study of the history of the Church of Jesus
Christ of Latter-day Saints will implant in our boys and girls a love for
its heroes, a loyalty to its principles, and an appreciation of its
achievements. By a knowledge of the history of the Church, our young people
will prize more highly that heritage given them of God and preserved for
them by the sweat and blood of their fathers.

The teacher using this little book will understand that it is not
exhaustive, but rather suggestive. The teacher should be in possession of
much more history than is given here. He should fill in much of the
undercurrent of heroism, faith, and devotion exhibited by the characters of
the history, very little of which can be given in the text. The importance
of this larger knowledge on the part of the teacher will be understood by
an examination of the review and questions at the end of each chapter. The
aim in these questions is not only to review the facts of the lesson, but
by suggestions and reference to bring out more fully deductions and

It is believed that by combining the topical and the question methods the
best results may be obtained. The topics are to be assigned certain pupils
for treatment. Questions should not be limited to those in the book. The
teacher should find many more to ask.

Special attention is called to the maps. Have pupils locate each important
place. Quite a number of dates are found in the text. It is not intended
that the pupils should memorize them all. Most of them should be used
merely in fixing the relative time between events. It is suggested that the
pupils be encouraged to refer to the Church works and other books mentioned
in the text.

For further preparation the teacher is referred to "The History of the
Church," "Cannon's Life of Joseph Smith," "Whitney's History of Utah." The
"Faith Promoting Series," Evan's "Hundred Years of Mormonism," etc., will
give much interesting and valuable information.


To Parents and Teachers

A Parable

The First Vision

The Angel Moroni

The Sacred Plates

The Book of Mormon

The Three Witnesses

The Priesthood Restored

Organization of the Church

Persecution of Joseph

The Mission to the Indians

Removal to Ohio

The Land of Zion

Persecution in Jackson County

Expulsion from Jackson County

Zion's Camp

The Church at Kirtland

The Twelve Apostles - The Seventies - Kirtland Temple

The Mission to England

Far West

Haun's Mill Massacre

Driven from Missouri

In Missouri Prisons


The Martyrdom

Expulsion from Illinois

The Battle of Nauvoo


The Mormon Battalion

The Pioneers

Great Salt Lake City

Growth of Utah and the Church

The "Utah War"

The "Utah War" (Concluded)


The "Crusade"

The Presidency of Wilford Woodruff

Temple Building

The Presidency of Lorenzo Snow

The Presidency of Joseph F. Smith


First Presidencies of the Church
List of Twelve Apostles

Fayette and Kirtland
Missouri and Illinois
Routes of Mormon Battalion and Pioneers

Joseph Smith, the Prophet
Hyrum Smith the Patriarch
Brigham Young
The Hill Cumorah
The Three Witnesses
Sidney Rigdon
President Brigham Young
The Kirtland Temple
President Heber C. Kimball
Haun's Mill
The Nauvoo House
The Nauvoo Mansion
Carthage Jail
A Pioneer Train
Salt Lake Valley in 1847
The Old Fort
Salt Lake Tabernacle (Interior)
Salt Lake Tabernacle (Exterior)
President John Taylor
President Wilford Woodruff
The Pioneer Monument
Salt Lake Temple and Grounds
President Lorenzo Snow
The First Presidency, 1916
Joseph Smith Monument and Memorial Cottage
Church Office Building





Once upon a time the owner of a very large garden planted therein a tree,
the fruit of which was very precious and of great value to all who ate of
it. For a time, the tree grew and bore much good fruit. But the owner of
the garden had an enemy who went about secretly sowing seeds of weeds and
all manner of briers and brush, that they might spread all over the garden
and kill out the good tree which the master had planted. The enemy also
persuaded many of the workmen in the garden to neglect the good tree, and
let the briers and weeds grow up around it and so prevent its growth. Thus
in time the once precious fruit of the good tree became wild and scrubby,
no better than the enemy's trees which grew around it.

Years passed, and the master, grieving that the precious fruit should have
become so worthless, determined to plant the good tree once more in the
garden. He did not try to clear away a spot for it amid the old, overgrown
parts of the land, but he called upon certain workers to go to a distant
part of the garden where nothing had been planted for a long time, and
there prepare the ground for the planting of the tree.

These workers were faithful to their master and did as they were told. Very
few of the enemy's noxious weeds were growing in the new soil, so it was
not such hard work to clear the ground and prepare a place for the master
to plant his tree.

To be better protected against the enemy, the master told his workmen to
build a high, strong wall about that part of the garden. This was all done;
and then one beautiful spring day the owner came with his servants. They
had with them the precious tree taken from some other garden where it had
grown without hindrance from weeds. The tree was planted and put in charge
of other servants to tend it. The warm sun shone on it, the rains came from
heaven to water it, and the tree took firm root and grew.

Now all the boys and girls who read this book will understand that the
little story I have just told is what is called a _Parable_, meant to make
plainer some facts and truths. I can not tell you all about that tree here,
how it grew and bore fruit, and how many people came and ate of its
delicious fruit, notwithstanding the enemy came again and tried to check
its growth. I say, I cannot tell it to you in the form of a parable, but
will tell it as it actually happened. You may, if you like, imagine in your
own minds the rest of the parable, but the real story you will find more
interesting than any made-up tale can be.

First, let me explain to you the meaning of the parable.

The garden means the earth, and the owner is the Lord, who came to the
earth about nineteen hundred years ago to die for the sins of the world. He
also planted the good tree, that is, He brought the gospel and taught it
to his followers. The enemy is the evil one, the devil, who stirred up men
to work against the gospel and to kill those who obeyed it. He also mixed
his lies with Christ's truths, until in time the pure gospel was not to be
found on the earth.

This was the condition of the world for hundreds of years. Then the Lord
wished to restore the true gospel and again establish his Church on the
earth. He therefore chose a place where all would have the right to believe
the truth and be protected in that liberty. The Lord, therefore, moved upon
Columbus to discover this land of America.

The servants spoken of, whom the Lord sent to prepare the land for the
planting, were all those great and good men whom you have read about in
your American history: Washington, Jefferson, Franklin, and many others.
You will remember how these men loved right and liberty, and how they
worked so hard for it; and in reading the history of these men we can
plainly see that the Lord was with them and helped them. These men built
the high wall, which means that they made just laws that would protect the
people and let them worship God in any way they thought right.

Thus was the way prepared for the gospel to be restored again to the earth;
and the Lord himself came from heaven, also his servants Moroni, Peter,
James, and John to bring the glad tidings to all who live on the earth.

Then the Lord called some more servants to preach the gospel to the world
and build up his Church. The first and greatest of these servants is known
by the name of Joseph Smith, the Prophet. How the Lord called him to this
great work and delivered to him the gospel will be told you in the next

Topics. - 1. The Parable. 2. Explanation.

Questions and Review. - 1. Name some of Christ's first disciples. 2: Tell
how some of them were killed. 3. How long was the world without the gospel?
4. Tell how Columbus discovered America. 5. Who were the Pilgrims? 6. What
was the Revolutionary war about? 7. What is the Constitution of the United
States? 8. Find out what it says about religious liberty. 9. Why is America
the "Land of liberty?"



At the time when Thomas Jefferson was president of the United States, there
was born among the Green Mountains of Vermont a boy who was to become the
great prophet of the last days. The hills and valleys of Vermont look
beautiful in the summer, but at the time here spoken of they were no doubt
covered with snow, for it was the 23rd of December, 1805, in the town of
Sharon, Windsor county, that Joseph Smith first saw the light of the world.

Joseph was named after his father, whose name was Joseph. His mother's
maiden name was Lucy Mack. Joseph had five brothers and three sisters whose
names were Alvin, Hyrum, (then Joseph), Samuel, William, Don Carlos,
Sophronia, Catherine and Lucy; so you see that there was a large family for
the father and mother to take care of. Joseph's parents were poor and had
to work hard for a living, so when the boys were old enough they had to
help on the farm; this they willingly, did. For this reason Joseph did not
go to school much, but he learned to read, to write fairly well, and to
work some examples in arithmetic. Though Joseph did not get much of an
education at school, yet he was a great student; and then God became his
teacher, so that before he died, as you will see, he became one of the most
learned men in the world.

When Joseph was ten years old they all moved from Vermont to Palmyra, in
the western part of the state of New York. Four years later they moved
again to the small town of Manchester, in Ontario, now Wayne County, New

While the family was living at Manchester there arose a great religious
excitement all through the country. The different religious sects held many
meetings and tried to get people to join them. Joseph was now in his
fifteenth year and he also became interested, as his parents had always
taught him to believe in God and the Bible. Joseph thought he would like to
join the true church of Christ, but what troubled him was to know which of
all these sects was the true church. He could see that all of them could
not be true, as God surely would not have a great many churches, one
striving against the other; also, no doubt, he had read in the Bible that
there was but "one Lord, one faith, one baptism," etc., which the Lord
accepted. Joseph went first to one meeting, then to another. His mother and
some of his brothers and sisters had joined the Presbyterians, but Joseph
could not make up his mind what to do.

But there is a way by which anyone may find out which is the true church
and therefore which to join, and every boy and girl that reads this book
should remember it. It is this: Ask God. Joseph did not know this until one
day while reading in his Testament he came to the fifth verse in the first
chapter of James, which reads as follows:

"If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God, that giveth to all
men liberally and upbraideth not; and it shall be given him."

This was just the thing. God had surely led him to read that verse. Joseph
certainly lacked wisdom, and here was a way to find out what he wanted to
know about the sects. The Lord would tell him. All he had to do was to ask.
How simple it was!

On a beautiful morning in the spring of the year 1820, Joseph decided to
ask the Lord for wisdom. He went out into a grove near his father's house,
and after looking around to make sure that he was alone, he kneeled down on
the grass under the trees and began to pray. No sooner had he begun than
some awful power which he could not see took hold of him and made it nearly
impossible for him to speak. It soon became dark around the boy, and Joseph
thought the unseen power would kill him; but he struggled hard and tried to
pray to God for help.

Just at that moment Joseph saw a great light coming down from above, and
then the evil power left him. The light was brighter than the sun, and as
it came down and touched the tops of the trees, Joseph wondered why it did
not burn them. Then it shone all around him, and in the light, standing in
the air above him, he saw two persons who looked like men, only they were
shining with a glory that can not be described. One of them, pointing to
the other, said to the boy:

"_Joseph, this is my Beloved Son; hear him_."

Joseph then asked which of all the religions was right, and great was his
surprise when he was told that none was right; that they all had gone
astray from the truth; and that he must join none of them. Joseph was told
many other things, among which was that some day the true gospel would be
made known to him. Then they left him alone in the woods.

What a wonderful thing! God the Father and his Son Jesus Christ had
actually come to Joseph. He had seen them and they had spoken to him. That
same Jesus of whom he had read in his Bible had come from heaven and his
Father had come with him to introduce him to the boy praying in the woods!

This was the first vision and the beginning of the gospel in our day; and
by thinking carefully about this vision, we may see that it teaches us many
things. First, that God has a body like unto man's. Second, that the Father
and the Son are two persons, not one, as many in the world believe. Third,
that the many religions which man has made are not accepted by God. Fourth,
that God has not ceased to give revelations to men on the earth.

Topics. - 1. Joseph's Boyhood. 2. The Vision. 3. What may be learned from
the vision.

Questions and Review. - 1. When and where was Joseph Smith born? 2. To
what places did Joseph move? 3. What led Joseph to ask God for wisdom? 4.
Repeat James I:5. 5. Why can not all the sects in the world be right? 6.
Did the Father and the Son come to Joseph solely because of this prayer?[1]
7. Why did the evil one try to destroy Joseph? 8. What may we learn from
this vision?



When Joseph told of his vision to some of his friends he was surprised to
find that they did not believe him, but made fun of what he said. The
strangest thing to the boy was that the preachers of religion, instead of
being glad at such glorious news, told him it was from the devil, and that
God did not give any more revelations from heaven. All such things had
ceased with the apostles of old, they said. Another strange thing was that
these preachers began to tell untruths about him, and seemed to hate him
for what he told. Still Joseph would not deny his story. "I have actually
seen a vision," he said again and again. "I know it, and I know that God
knows it, and I dare not deny it."

So three years went by.

On the evening of September 21, 1823, after Joseph had retired to his room,
he prayed earnestly that the Lord would forgive him his sins and show him
if he was yet accepted of him. While he was yet praying a very bright light
came into the room, and immediately a person stood in the air by his
bedside. As this person was an angel - a being who had died and had been
resurrected with an immortal body - it is interesting to know how he looked.

Joseph describes him as a man having on a robe whiter than anything he had
ever seen. His hands were naked, and his arms also, a little above the
wrists. His feet were also bare a little above the ankles. His head and
neck were also bare. Not only was his robe very white but his whole person
shone with great glory. The room was very light, but not so bright as
close around the angel's person.

The angel called Joseph by name, and said that he was a messenger sent from
God to him, and that his name was Moroni. He told Joseph that God had a
work for him to do, and because of this work, good and evil would be spoken
about his name in all nations. The angel then told him of a record written
on gold plates which were hidden in a hill not far away. This record was a
history of the peoples who had lived on this continent, of whom the Indians
were a part. With the plates was an instrument called the Urim and Thummim,
which God had prepared for the translating of the records. After a time
these things would be given to Joseph, but he must take great care of them
and show them to no one except those to whom the Lord would direct. Then
Moroni showed Joseph, by a vision, the place, where the plates were hidden.

After giving much other instruction, the light in the room began to gather
in towards the person of the angel, leaving the room again in darkness,
except just around the heavenly visitor, who soon disappeared in a shining
path into heaven.

Three times that same night Moroni visited Joseph and told him nearly the
same things over again. About the plates Joseph was further told that he
would be tempted to get them for the purpose of getting rich, as the plates
were of great value; but he must not yield to that spirit as they were
sacred, and he must have no other purpose in view than to do the will of
God and build up his kingdom; otherwise he would not get them. At the close
of the third visit it was morning, and then Joseph knew that he had been
talking with the angel nearly all the night.

That morning Joseph went as usual with his father to work in the field,
but he was so weak that he could do but little. His father, seeing this,
told him to go home.

On the way, as he was climbing over a fence, Joseph fell helpless to the
ground. After that the first thing he knew was that some one was calling
him by name. Looking up he again saw the angel Moroni, who once more told
him all that he had related the night before. He then told Joseph to go
back to the field and tell his father of the vision and the commandments
which he had received.

Joseph obeyed at once, and went back and told all he had seen and heard.
His father believed all he said, and told Joseph to obey the angel, as the
teachings and commandments were surely from the Lord.

Topics. - 1. Beginning of persecution. 2. Visit of the angel Moroni. 3.
What Moroni told Joseph.

Questions and Review. - 1. What did people say of Joseph's first vision?
2. Why did people persecute a young boy like Joseph? 3. Name the date of
Moroni's visit. 4. What is an angel? (See Doc. and Cov. Sec. 129, also Key
to Theology, Chap. 12.) 5. Describe the Angel Moroni. 6. Why did the angel
repeat so often his instructions to Joseph? 7. How old was Joseph at this



About two miles south of Joseph's home, in Manchester, is a large hill, the
highest in that part of the country. To this place Joseph went on the
morning after the angel's visit, as this was the spot he had seen in his
vision. On the west side of this hill, not far from the top, Joseph found
a large, rounded stone, nearly covered with earth. Prying this up, he found
it to be the lid of a stone box which was buried in the earth. Raising the
lid, he looked in, and there indeed were the sacred treasures about which
the angel had told him. As he stood looking at them in wonder, the angel
Moroni came to his side, and Joseph was taught many things about the
future. He was shown in a vision the glory of the good and the darkness of
the evil.

[Illustration: THE HILL CUMORAH.]

Joseph was about to take the plates from the box, when the angel forbade
him, telling him the time had not yet arrived, but that he should come to
the hill in one year from that date when the angel would meet him. This he
must do for four years, at the end of which time, if Joseph was faithful,
the plates would be given to him to translate and publish to the world.

True to the angel's instructions, Joseph went to the hill Cumorah on the
22nd day of September of each year, at which time Moroni appeared to him
and gave him many teachings about the word of God.

During all this time Joseph had to labor hard on the farm, sometimes hiring
out to work for others. In October, 1825, he worked for a man by the name
of Josiah Stoal, who took Joseph to the State of Pennsylvania, and set him
with other men, digging for a silver mine which he thought he could find.
After working at it for some time, Joseph persuaded his employer to give it
up. It was from this incident that Joseph's enemies sometimes called him a
"money digger."

While working for Mr. Stoal, Joseph boarded for some time with the family
of Isaac Hale. Here he met Emma Hale who became his wife, they being
married in the year 1827.

The four years were now passed. On the 22nd of September, 1827, Joseph went
on his fifth visit to the sacred hill, and on that day the angel Moroni
delivered to him the plates and the Urim and Thummim. He was told to take
good care of them as evil men would try to take them from him; but if he,
Joseph, would do all he could to preserve them, the Lord would come to his
assistance when it would be needed.

The records which Joseph received consisted of a great many gold plates
nearly as thick as common tin. They were about seven by eight inches in
size, and were bound together by three rings running through holes, in the
edges of the plates. This made the plates like a book, so that they might
be turned as the leaves of a book are turned. On each side of every plate
were engraved beautiful letters, in a language which Joseph could not read.
The book was about six inches thick. A part of it was sealed, and Joseph
was told not to open it, as the time had not yet come for that part to be
made known to the world.

The Urim and Thummim consisted of two transparent stones, clear as crystal,
set in two rims of a bow. It was used in ancient times by the seers, and
through it they received revelations of things past and future. You may
read about this instrument in the Bible, in Exodus, 28: 30; and Ezra 2: 63.

As soon as it was known that Joseph had the plates, many evil-minded
persons tried to get them from him, and he had to hide them in different
places to keep them safe. Mobs began to surround his house, men tried to
catch him on the roads or in the fields, and he was even shot at a number
of times. Joseph now saw how timely the angel's warning was.

Living thus in constant fear, Joseph could not do anything towards
translating the records; so he moved, with his wife, to her old home in
Pennsylvania. While on the way an officer overtook him and searched his
wagon for the plates, but could not find them. They were there, however,
safely hidden in a barrel of beans.

Arriving in Harmony, where his father-in-law lived, Joseph began to
translate some of the writings on the plates. As Joseph was a slow writer

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