Far West, Missouri

Originally called Shoal Creek. Located fifty-five miles northeast of Independence. Surveyed 1823; first settled by whites, 1831. Site purchased, 8 Aug. 1836, before Caldwell Co. was organized for Latter-day Saints in Missouri. William W. Phelps and John Whitmer held one square mile of land in trust for Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Site described as “high rolling prairie” between Shoal and Goose creeks, and the homes as “very scattering, and small, being chiefly built of hewed logs.” During Latter-day Saint period, population estimated at 3,000 to 5,000. Joseph Smith moved to Far West, Mar. 1838. By 1838, town featured 150 houses, four dry-goods stores, three family groceries, six blacksmith shops, two hotels, a printing office (where Elders’ Journal was printed), and at least two schoolhouses. Saints laid cornerstones for planned temple, 4 July 1838. Became church headquarters and center of Latter-day Saint activity in Missouri. Joseph Smith dictated several revelations in area. Smith arrested with other church leaders just outside of Far West, 31 Oct. 1838, following Missouri governor Lilburn W. Boggs’ executive order to exterminate Saints or drive them from state. Served as center of evacuation effort for Saints being expelled from state into Iowa Territory and western Illinois, early 1839.

Retrieved with permission from The Joseph Smith Papers.