Anti-Mormon tensions were high in Kirtland, Ohio. On March 24, 1832, Smith and at least one of his church counselors were at Smith’s home looking over his child who wasn’t very well.
It was late at night and an angry mob attacked and snatched the two men. At the time, Smith was in the process of erecting a temple on the Kirtland settlement.
The 1838 Mormon War
The war, known also as the Missouri Mormon War, created the need for Mormon relocation in Nauvoo. Tensions and anti-Mormon violence led to Missouri governor Lilburn Boggs ordering Mormons to leave Missouri or be killed. Most of Smith’s followers escaped, joining an exodus of 10,000 who made it safely to Nauvoo.
It’s hard to say exactly why the backlash against Smith’s disciples was so virulent but naming Missouri the holy land did not help. He said the town of Independence in Missouri would be the Mormon City of Zion, land for his followers to inhabit.
The First Detractors of ‘The Book’
Smith rose to prominence in western New York where he grew up as a farmer. This is where he acquired his first flock of followers. But by 1831, his LDS converts were already feeling the burn of their prophet’s critics.
The ridicule of anti-Mormon sentiment marked the onset of the Mormon church’s slow crawl westward, riddled of course with conflicts like the war in Missouri. Ultimately destined for Salt Lake City, the modern church has proliferated abundantly ever since.
Building his First Temple
Upon fleeing New York, Smith and his people landed in Kirtland, Ohio. For six years they flourished there. A year after arriving, Smith had a revelation from God to build a temple. That was just the start. Smith claimed to receive 65 revelations during construction.
He managed to oversee the project with a small group of impoverished followers. Church members donated labor and materials like glass and pottery used for making stucco. Soaring to 110 feet, it was reverently dedicated in 1836.
Why the City of Zion Temple was Never Built
During the temple-construction days of the Kirtland church, plans to build a sprawling compound of temples in the city of Zion were developing. Smith received a revelation in 1831 for building an “everlasting inheritance.” In 1833 the master plan was underway.
It intended Jackson County, Missouri to host 24 temples and accommodate 20,000 people. Why didn’t it happen? Once again, Mormons were chased out. Missouri citizens expelled the LDS from the city.