Far West, Missouri
Far West, Missouri, was a Latter Day Saint (Mormon
The term Mormon most commonly denotes an adherent, practitioner, follower, or constituent of Mormonism, which is the largest branch of the Latter Day Saint movement in restorationist Christianity...

) settlement in Caldwell County, Missouri
Caldwell County, Missouri
Caldwell County is a county located in the U.S. state of Missouri. , the population was 8,969. Its county seat is Kingston. The county was organized in 1836 as a haven for the Mormons, who had been previously driven from Jackson County, Missouri in November of 1833 and had been refugees in...


Foundation and early history

The town was founded by Missouri Mormon leaders, W. W. Phelps and John Whitmer
John Whitmer
John Whitmer was an early leader in the Latter Day Saint movement. He was one of the Eight Witnesses of the Book of Mormon's Golden Plates...

 in August 1836 shortly before the county's creation. The town was plat
A plat in the U.S. is a map, drawn to scale, showing the divisions of a piece of land. Other English-speaking countries generally call such documents a cadastral map or plan....

ted originally as a 1 miles (1.6 km) square area, centered on a public square which was to house a temple. The design of the town resembled Mormon founder and prophet Joseph Smith Jr.'s plan for the City of Zion
Zion (Mormonism)
Within the Latter Day Saint movement, Zion is often used to connote a utopian association of the righteous. This association would practice a form of communitarian economics called the United Order meant to ensure that all members maintained an acceptable quality of life, class distinctions were...

, which had been planned to be built in the town of Independence
Independence, Missouri
Independence is the fourth largest city in the U.S. state of Missouri, and is contained within the counties of Jackson and Clay. It is part of the Kansas City Metropolitan Area...

, Jackson County, Missouri
Jackson County, Missouri
Jackson County is a county located in the U.S. state of Missouri. With a population of 674,158 in the 2010 census, Jackson County is the second most populous of Missouri's counties, after St. Louis County. Kansas City, the state's most populous city and focus city of the Kansas City Metropolitan...

. As the town of Far West grew, the plat was extended to 4 square miles (10.4 km²).

Early Latter-day Saints began to settle in northwestern Missouri soon after the Church of Christ was organized in 1830. According to a revelation given by Joseph Smith Jr., Independence would be the "centerplace" of the City of Zion when Jesus
Jesus of Nazareth , commonly referred to as Jesus Christ or simply as Jesus or Christ, is the central figure of Christianity...

 returned. However, disputes between Mormon and Missourian settlers in Independence led to the expulsion of the Mormons from Jackson County in 1833. Most Mormons temporarily settled in Clay County, Missouri. Towards the end of 1836, Caldwell County was created specifically for Mormon settlement to recompense Mormon losses in Jackson County. Shortly after the creation of Caldwell County, Far West was made the county seat.

Far West became the headquarters of the Latter Day Saint movement in early 1838 when prophet Joseph Smith and Sidney Rigdon
Sidney Rigdon
Sidney Rigdon was a leader during the early history of the Latter Day Saint movement.-Baptist background:...

 relocated to the town from the previous church headquarters, Kirtland, Ohio
Kirtland, Ohio
Kirtland is a city in Lake County, Ohio, USA. The population was 6,670 at the 2000 census. Kirtland is famous for being the early headquarters of the Latter Day Saint movement.-Origins of Kirtland:...

. Joseph Smith taught the Latter-day Saints that the Garden of Eden
Garden of Eden
The Garden of Eden is in the Bible's Book of Genesis as being the place where the first man, Adam, and his wife, Eve, lived after they were created by God. Literally, the Bible speaks about a garden in Eden...

 had been in Jackson County and when Adam and Eve
Adam and Eve
Adam and Eve were, according to the Genesis creation narratives, the first human couple to inhabit Earth, created by YHWH, the God of the ancient Hebrews...

 were expelled from the Garden, they moved to the Caldwell County and Daviess County areas of Missouri. While headquartered in Far West, the official name of the church was changed from Church of Jesus Christ to the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints.

Mormon-Missourian conflict of 1838

New problems erupted between the Mormons and their neighbors when the Mormons began to settle in the counties surrounding Caldwell, including De Witt
De Witt, Missouri
De Witt is a city in Carroll County, Missouri, United States. The population was 120 at the 2000 census.-Geography:De Witt is located at .According to the United States Census Bureau, the city has a total area of , all of it land....

 in Carroll County and Adam-ondi-Ahman
Adam-ondi-Ahman is an historic site along the east bluffs above the Grand River in Daviess County, Missouri. According to The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints , it is the site where Adam and Eve lived after being expelled from the Garden of Eden...

 in Daviess County. A series of escalating conflicts followed and the Governor of Missouri eventually called out 2,500 state militiamen to put down what he alleged to be a "Mormon rebellion." Latter Day Saints poured into Far West for protection and found themselves under siege. Joseph Smith Jr., Sidney Rigdon and others surrendered at the end of October, 1838, and were put on trial by the state for treason. The main body of the Mormons were then forced to sign over their property in Far West and Caldwell County to pay for the militia muster and then leave the state. The main body later settled in Nauvoo, Illinois
Nauvoo, Illinois
Nauvoo is a small city in Hancock County, Illinois, United States. Although the population was just 1,063 at the 2000 census, and despite being difficult to reach due to its location in a remote corner of Illinois, Nauvoo attracts large numbers of visitors for its historic importance and its...


Aftermath and Far West today

Far West became a ghost town soon after the departure of most of the Mormon population. The county seat was moved to Kingston, Missouri
Kingston, Missouri
Kingston is a city in Caldwell County, Missouri, United States. The population was 287 at the 2000 census. It is the county seat of Caldwell County.-Geography:Kingston is located at...

 and many of the log houses in Far West were relocated. Former Mormon John Whitmer
John Whitmer
John Whitmer was an early leader in the Latter Day Saint movement. He was one of the Eight Witnesses of the Book of Mormon's Golden Plates...

 continued to live in the nearly empty town, where he owned a large farm.

Today Far West is a historic site seven miles (11.26 km) south of U.S. Highway 36 on State Route D. The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints maintains a historic site there, including the cornerstones of the planned temple. Some Latter Day Saints expect that a temple will be located on this spot at some time in the future. The Community of Christ
Community of Christ
The Community of Christ, known from 1872 to 2001 as the Reorganized Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints , is an American-based international Christian church established in April 1830 that claims as its mission "to proclaim Jesus Christ and promote communities of joy, hope, love, and peace"...

, formerly known as the Reorganized Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, has a branch congregation that meets in Far West.

In 2004 construction began on a historic village adjacent to the temple site. It is operated by the Far West Historical Society to accommodate and increase tourism. The Country Store has been in operation since 2006. Future plans include overnight housing and conference facilities. The progress of this project indicates a major shift in the growth of the area.

External links

  • http://www.farwesthistory.com
  • http://www.farwesthistorical.org
  • Plan of Far West
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