Birthplace of Joseph Smith Jr., Founder and first Prophet of the LDS (Mormon) Church
On this spot, December 23rd, 1805, Joseph Smith Jr., was born to Joseph Sr. and Lucy Mack Smith. Joseph Jr,. was the fifth of ultimately eleven children born to the family. It would be in 1820 after moving to Palmyra, New York that Joseph Smith Jr. had his vision of God and Jesus Christ and being called to restore the Church of Christ back to the earth. The farm no longer exists in Vermont, but on this spot there is a memorial on the spot where the farm once stood.
Constructing of monument in 1905
Monument and Cottage in 1905
Work being done on monument/obelisk
Joseph Smith Birthplace Memorial as it looks today
Early portrait of Joseph Smith Jr.
pieces of monument being transported to site of birthplace
Backstory and Context
The fifth of eleven children, Joseph Smith Jr. was born on December 23rd, 1805 to Joseph Sr. and Lucy Mack Smith. At the time the Smith's were one of a handful of struggling farmers in the area. Joseph Sr. at the time was experimenting with growing ginseng along with other famers but failed in making any profit, while at the same time was cheated by a business associate. These failures combined ruined the Smith family. By 1811, the family had to sell the farm to pay off debts and moved to what is now New Hampshire to try again. In the end, the family would move seven times in fourteen years. A religious family, the Smith's however, did not join a church in unity, but each went to those they found in accodance to their beliefs. When the family moved to Palmyra, New York by 1820, religious fervor in the area grew and the Smith's desired to find that one church to join, being concerned over the religious tension. Joseph Jr., read and prayed as to what church to join, being confused over the many in existence. It is the LDS/Mormon church belief that in the Spring of 1820, when Joseph prayed he had a visit from God and Jesus Christ, was told to join none of them and he was to restore the original church of Christ on the earth.
In 1884, an LDS church leader, Junius Wells, visited the the town of Sharon and set forth plans to construct a memorial at Joseph Smith Jr's birthplace. Under the direction of the President of the Church, Joseph F. Smith, Wells began planning and construction of a monument and a cottage house for meetings and visitors. Completed in 1905, President Joseph F. Smith dedicated the area on Dec. 23rd, 1905, on the 100th anniversary of Joseph Smith Jr's birth. Today there is a visitor's center and meetinghouse. Admission is free.
More on the Smith family and LDS Church history can be found online, by talking to missionaries and members of the church and by other entries created here on Clio.
Susa Young Gates, "Memorial Monument Dedication", Improvement Era, Feb. 1906
Junius F. Wells (December 1907). "The Prophet's Birthplace". Improvement Era 11 (2): 133–37.