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The Story behind the Stories of the Mormon Missouri Experience, 1838-1839

Haun's Mill by C.C.A. Christensen

Haun’s Mill by C.C.A. Christensen

Few stories from the early history of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints create stronger emotions and more vivid images than those from the Church’s first ventures into Missouri.  Words like “Adam-ondi-Ahman” or “the New Jerusalem” often emit feelings of joy and excitement.  However, mention Hawn’s Mill, Governor Boggs and his “Extermination Order,” or Liberty Jail, and one may express feelings of sorrow, anger, or defeat.  Thus was the range of emotions experienced by the Saints in Missouri from 1831—when Jackson County was identified as the “center place” of Zion (D&C 57)—to 1839, when the Saints and their leaders were incarcerated or forced to leave the state or risk death and extermination.  Latter-day Saints today experience a similar roller coaster of emotions as they explore this time period in their history.

But where did these stories come from?  Who told them and how were they recorded or shared?  In recognition of the 175th anniversary of the expulsion of the Mormons from their beloved Missouri, L. Tom Perry Special Collections has put together an exhibit of primary sources from their collection that contain accounts or reports of the experience of the Church in Missouri, 1838-1839.  Come to the Special Collections lobby on the 1st floor of the Lee Library and view this exhibit to get a sense for the extent of materials available here at BYU to those interested in the original sources of these stories and in better understanding the viewpoints of those who witnessed the events of this critical period in Church history.

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