Far West, Caldwell County, Missouri, USA

The temple site at Far West Photo courtesy of Alexander L. Baugh
The temple site at Far West
Photo courtesy of Alexander L. Baugh

Many important developments in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints occurred in Far West, Missouri. The town served as the county seat for Caldwell County. Here, Joseph received the revelation that the Church should be named “The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints”1 and the principle of tithing was also made known to the Saints.2 In addition, it was revealed to the Prophet Joseph Smith that the ground of Far West was holy and the Saints were commanded to build a temple there.3

The temple cornerstones were laid on July 4, 1838, but it was never constructed due to opposition by the local Missourians.

Site that was once Far West, Missouri. Photo by Kenneth Mays.
Site that was once Far West, Missouri. Photo by Kenneth Mays.

The laying out the city of Far West was described as “one mile square, divided by streets running at right angles into regular blocks, except that a large public square was laid off in the center of the town, designed for a temple site and other public buildings. This square was approached from the four points of the compass by avenues, eight rods wide. All the other streets were five rods wide.”4

Key Events at Far West

Cornerstone at the Far West temple site, where the Twelve began their mission to Great Britain. Photo by Kenneth Mays.
Cornerstone at the Far West temple site, where the Twelve began their mission to Great Britain. Photo by Kenneth Mays.

– The cornerstones of a temple that was to built here were laid on July 4, 1838. Due to persecution, the temple was never completed.

– The revelation naming the Church, “The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints” was given and the principle of tithing was revealed here.

– In fulfillment of a prophesy by Joseph Smith, the apostles left for their mission to England on April 26, 1839.

It was from Far West that the Prophet Joseph Smith was taken into custody and placed in Liberty Jail. The fourth division of the state militia, led by a resident of Jackson County, General Samuel Lucas, approached Far West on the evening of October 30, 1938. Joseph Smith, Jun., Sidney Rigdon, Lyman Wight, Parley P. Pratt and George W. Robinson were betrayed by Colonel George M. Hinckle, the officer leading the Caldwell County militia, and were delivered into the hands of General Lucas.

Adam-ondi-Ahman. Photo by Kenneth Mays.
Adam-ondi-Ahman. Photo by Kenneth Mays.

General Lucas held a court marshall and a decision was made to kill the prisoners in the town square the next day. General Alexander Doniphan, upon receiving the order said, “It is cold-blooded murder. I will not obey your order. My brigade shall march for Liberty tomorrow morning, at 8 o’clock; and if you execute these men, I will hold you responsible before an earthly tribunal, so help me God.”5 Thanks to General Doniphan’s bold stand and the prayers of the Saints offered throughout the night, the lives of the Prophet and the other prisoners were saved.

However, due to the extermination order issued by Lilburn W. Boggs and the persecution from the Missouri mobocrats, the Saints were forced to flee the city and region during the late fall and winter of 1838-39.


SOURCES

 

1 Doctrine & Covenants 115:4.

2 Doctrine & Covenants 119:3-4.

3 Doctrine & Covenants 115:8.

4 B. H. Roberts, A Comprehensive History of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, 6 vols. (Salt Lake City: Deseret News Press, 1930), 1: 424.

5 Gregory Maynard, “Alexander William Doniphan: Man of Justice,” BYU Studies, Volume 13, No. 4, (Summer 1973), 462.

Map & Directions


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Photos

Far West burial grounds, about a mile from the temple site. Photo by Kenneth Mays.
Far West burial grounds, about a mile from the temple site. Photo by Kenneth Mays.
Far West temple site. Photo by Kenneth Mays.
Far West temple site. Photo by Kenneth Mays.
Site that was once Far West, Missouri. Photo by Kenneth Mays.
Site that was once Far West, Missouri. Photo by Kenneth Mays.

Articles & Resources

George A. Smith's Account of the Apostasy of Thomas B.

Marsh Author(s): George A. Smith
Type: Third-person account
Source(s): Journal of Discourses, 26 vols. (London: Latter-day Saints’ Book Depot, 1854-1886), 3:283-284.

You may think that these small matters amount to but little, but sometimes it happens that out of a small matter grows something exceedingly great. For instance, while the Saints were living in Far West, there were two sisters wishing to make cheese, and, neither of them possessing the requisite number of cows, they…

Far West, at LDS.org

Far West, at JosephSmith.net

Alexander L. Baugh, “A Call to Arms: The 1838 Defense of Northern Missouri,” Ph.D. dissertation, 1996.

Alexander L. Baugh, “A Community Abandoned: W. W. Phelps’ 1939 Letter to Sally Waterman Phelps from Far West, Missouri,” Nauvoo Journal, Fall 1998, 19.

H. C. Smith, “Temple Lot at Far West, Missouri,” Journal of History, 1910.

“Caldwell County, Missouri,” Historical Record, 1889.

“Far West, Missouri” Encyclopedia of Mormonism, ed. Daniel H. Ludlow et al., 1992.

Far West PDF