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Ramus, Hancock County, Illinois


Ramus has been known as Crooked Creek, Perkin’s Settlement, Macedonia, and Webster. It is located approximately twenty-two miles east of Nauvoo and eight miles north of Carthage, the county seat. The settlement is located on black, fertile soil. 

Ramus map


The area was first settled in 1826 by Ute Perkins. Latter-day Saints began moving into the area known as Crooked Creek in 1839. They renamed the area “Ramus,” a Latin word meaning “branch.” In August 1840, Ramus was platted for William Wightman by John Wilson Johnson, county surveyor. A post office was established in September 1840.

From the beginning, Ramus was intended to be a gathering place for Latter-day Saints. The small Crooked Creek Branch organized in 1839 became the Ramus Stake on July 15, 1840, with Joel Hills Johnson called as stake president. Johnson also ran a sawmill in the town (1). Other Latter-day Saints played an active role in business enterprises in Ramus. For example, Benjamin Franklin Johnson operated a tavern, Morris Phelps ran a carpentry shop, and Wilkins J. Salisbury worked as a lawyer and blacksmith. The Women’s Relief Society also met in the community.
 Perhaps more significant in Ramus was the fact that Latter-day Saints built a meetinghouse—which may have been the first meetinghouse in the LDS Church. (In 1855, the United Brethren purchased the brick meetinghouse from the Baptists who had been using it as their place of worship. In 1897, the meetinghouse was torn down. The present Webster Community Church was built in 1897, on or near the site of the earlier LDS meetinghouse).

Ramus was incorporated by the state legislature as Macedonia on March 3, 1843. The Macedonia post office was officially established on March 13, 1844, with Joseph E. Johnson as postmaster.
During the Macedonia era, the Latter-day Saint population was estimated at over 500 residents. This made Macedonia the second largest community in Hancock County after Nauvoo.

Macedonia was renamed Webster on July 23, 1847. Webster never reached the population level of Macedonia. Some Latter-day Saints remained in Webster until 1850 and lived in peace with their neighbors. On March 27, 1869, the Illinois General Assembly announced: “That the act incorporating the town of Macedonia (now Webster), in the County of Hancock and the State of Illinois, and all acts amendatory thereof, be, and the same are, hereby repealed.” 

In May 2000, the Mormon Historic Sites Foundation and the Perkins Family Organization unveiled a historic monument which reads:
Webster is situated in Hancock County about twenty miles east of Nauvoo. Since the 1820s, Webster has been known by several names, including: Crooked Creek, the Perkins settlement, Ramus, and Macedonia. Ute and Sarah Perkins and their children were the first permanent residents on Crooked Creek, arriving in 1826. In 1839, following the Mormon expulsion from Missouri in 1839, a number of LDS families settled near the Perkins clan, including Joel H. Johnson.

Ute and his family not only accepted their new neighbors, but the Mormon faith as well. In 1840, the Perkins settlement, or Crooked Creek Branch, was renamed Ramus. A town was also laid out on land owned principally by Ute Perkins. On July 15, 1840, the Ramus Stake was organized by Hyrum Smith consisting of 112 members with Joel H. Johnson as stake president. The stake itself was short-lived, being disbanded in December 1841. However, even though the stake ceased to exist after that time, Ramus continued to thrive as a Mormon settlement (2).
Significant Latter-day Saint Events in Ramus

January 1839: Joel Hills Johnson settled on the west branch of Crooked Creek, eight miles from Carthage (3).

April 1839: The Crooked Creek branch was organized with Joel H. Johnson, presiding elder; William Wightman, clerk; Absalom Perkins, teacher; William G. Perkins, deacon (4).

September 22, 1839: George G. Johnston was ordained a teacher (5).

December 6, 1839: The Crooked Creek Branch was called together at Brother Merrill’s near Carthage. Philander Coltrin was ordained a teacher (6).

July 7, 1840: A meeting was held of the Crooked Creek Branch to take into consideration the propriety of having a stake of Zion appointed or located somewhere in the bounds of this branch. Brother John Hicks was called to the chair. Meeting was opened by prayer, after which several remarks were made, and the following resolutions passed—Resolved that it be our wishes that a Stake of Zion be appointed or located within the bounds of this branch, provided it should meet the minds of the First Presidency of this Church. Resolved that a Committee of three be appointed to ascertain the minds of the First Presidency and report to the Branch. Resolved that Joseph Holbrook, Nathaniel Frampton, and John Hicks compose said Committee. It was ascertained that there were about 2,525 acres of land owned by the Brethren, and wherever the Stake should be appointed, the lands should be donated or purchased for a very small compensation, and that there are one hundred and twelve members belonging to this Branch. Resolved that we meet on Thursday next at one o’clock P.M. to receive the report of the Committee. Resolved that the proceedings of this meeting be signed by the President and Clerk— John A. Hicks Prest. William Wightman—Clerk” (7)

July 14, 1840: Joseph Smith wrote from Nauvoo to Latter-day Saints in the Crooked Creek Branch approving the organization of a stake: “To the saints of the Crooked Creek Branch, Greeting: Having taken into consideration the subject of the propriety of establishing a stake at Crooked Creek, as requested in the resolutions of said branch, dated July 7th, 1840, signed by John A. Hicks Pres’t and William Wightman, Clerk. We have to say that we approve of the proceedings of the branch, and that their resolutions are in accordance with our views and feelings, and the sentiments adduced at the last April conference. Therefore, this may certify that the members of the church of Jesus Christ, of Latter-Day Saints, residing at the Crooked creek branch, are authorized to establish a stake agreeable to their request; and that they select such a location as they may think best adapted for that purpose. In order to carry into effect this object, it will be necessary to appoint a Bishop to transact business for said stake, which appointment will be left to the decision of said branch. The First Presidency will send some one of them to attend as soon as convenient to organize the stake, and give such instructions to the saints as may be wisdom. JOSEPH SMITH, jun., Hyrum Smith” (8).

July 15, 1840: Hyrum Smith organized the Ramus Stake with Joel H. Johnson as stake president, Joseph Holbrook, first counselor, Ebenezer Page, second counselor; William Wightman, bishop, Elijah G. Gaylord and William G. Perkins, counselors. Ordained to the high council were E. B. Wightman, Frasier Eaton, Anson Call, David Dutton, and J. M. Benson (9).

July 23, 1840: Morris Phelps, Benjamin Benson, Erastus Bingham and Harvey Strong were called to fill vacancies in the Ramus High Council (10).

July 29, 1840: Thomas Gates Sr. was appointed to Ramus High Council. Lots were drawn for their places in the quorum. 1. Anson Call, 2. J. M. Benson, 3. Absalom Perkins, 4. John Lawson, 5. E. B. Wightman, 6. Erastus Bingham, 7. Morris Phelps, 8. David Dutton, 9. Harvey Strong, 10. Francis Eaton, 11. Benjamin Benson (11).

October 25, 1840: Widow Quick and children mentioned in Ramus High Council meeting (12).

December 27, 1840: Application made for the formation of a branch at La Harpe, agreed. Hiram Boyce and Thomas Dunn ordained elders by E. Page and J. Holbrook. Resolved that the Bishop build a house for Widow Sherman (13).

December 30, 1840: John Wood ordained an elder (14).

April 17, 1841: Ramus High Council minutes show that the community was considering building a schoolhouse (15).

June 12, 1841: The Ramus High Council resolved to build a school house: “For the use of Meetings and Schools” and appropriated $500 of Church funds for its construction. A committee of three was appointed to superintend the building: J. M. Benson, A. Call, and Morris Phelps (16).

July 24, 1841: J. K. Chapman, Alanson Brown, and Isaac Clark were set apart as high counselors to replace vacancies on the Ramus High Council (17).

July 31, 1841: The Ramus High Council considered building an addition on the schoolhouse, 20’ by __’. A committee of three was appointed to manage the building: J. H. Johnson, Joseph Holbrook, and F. Samuel Thompson (18).

November 4, 1841: The Ramus High Council voted to raise money for the addition to the schoolhouse by subscription. There arose a dispute over the procedure for collecting money to pay for town lots (19).

December 4-5, 1841: “A conference was held at Ramus on the 4th and 5th of December, 1841, over which the Patriarch of the Church, Hyrum Smith, presided and Joseph Johnson acted as clerk. Brigham Young, Heber C. Kimball, Willard Richards and John Taylor, of the quorum of the Twelve Apostles, were present. It was unanimously resolved by the conference that the organization of the church at Ramus as a Stake be discontinued and that John Lawson be presiding Elder over the branch at Ramus, and Joseph Johnson, clerk; and that William Wightman, the Bishop, transfer all Church property in Ramus to the sole Trustee in Trust, Joseph Smith, President of the whole Church” (20).

December 8, 1841: William A. Wightman and Dolly Eaton Wightman, Deed, Ramus, Illinois, to Joseph Smith, Nauvoo, Illinois; unidentified handwriting. Joseph Smith noted, “The Twelve who attended the Ramus conference . . . returned with nearly a thousand dollars’ worth of property . . . for the Temple, which has been donated by the saints Ramus (21).

December 12, 1841: William A. Wightman and Dolly Eaton Wightman, Deed, Ramus, Illinois, to Joseph Smith, Nauvoo, Illinois; unidentified handwriting (22).

May 13, 1842: Joel Johnson and Joseph Johnson Letter, Ramus, to Joseph Smith, Nauvoo, Illinois; handwriting of Joseph Johnson dockets in handwriting of Willard Richards and Thomas Bullock notation in unidentified handwriting; three pages (23).

September 1842: Names of persons in Ramus presented for missions: (24)
Allen, John 
Andrews, Benjamin
Carpenter, Samuel E.
Clark, Isaac
Cleveland, Isaac
Crosby, Jesse 
Dutton, David
Elmer, Elijah
Gaylord, Elijah B.
Johnson, B. F. 
Johnson, J. H. 
Johnson, James
Kitcham, Joseph
Larkey, E. 
Lawson, John 
Lindsay, John 
Morse, Justus
Page, E. 
Perkins, Andrew
Perkins, Ute
Perkins, W. G.
Perkins, William L. 
Rappeley, Lewis 
Rogers, Isaac 
Rogers, S. C. 
Savage, William
Shumway, Otis
Snyder, George 
Springer, Z. 
Titus, Martin
Wakeley, John 
Willis, William 
Yaker, W. H. 
Young, Lorenzo 
The following were ordained (presumably to the office of elder):
Callister, Thomas
Johnson, George W. 
Johnson, J. E. 
Johnson, James
Kitcham, Joseph
Larkey, Edward
Springer, Z. 
Tompkins, James 
Wakeley, John
Willis, William T. 
November 15, 1842: President John Lawson recommended that David Dutton to replace him as president pro-tem (25).

March 3, 1843: E. B. Gaylord and others, Subscription for relief of Joseph Smith, Ramus; handwriting of Joseph Johnson docket in handwriting of Willard Richards one page (26).
“We the undersigned respectfully, contribute for the relief or support of Br. Joseph Smith whatever is attached to our names (27).

Absalam Perkins – 10 bushels corn
B. F. Johnson – load consisting of 1 hog, 20 bushels oats
Br. Kilbourne – $3 in provisions delivered soon
Charles Cushman – will deliver $5 in proof of same
David Dutton – 30 lbs. of pork
David T. LeBaron – 1 barrel flour
E. B. Gaylord – wagonload of provisions consisting of ?
E. Tuttle – hauling one load
Isaac Cleveland – 1 bushel wheat and of corn
J. E. Johnson – will send soon
James Fife – will send soon
Joel H. Johnson – 10 bushels corn
John Crosby – 1 barrel of flour
John Quayle – 16 bushels oats
Justus Morse – 10 bushels corn, ½ bushel ?
Lewis Perkins – 8 bushels corn
Otis Shumway – will deliver provisions at Nauvoo
Paul Pusket (?)– 6 bushels oats
Rufus Forbush – 5 bushels corn
Ute Perkins – 10 bushels corn
Widow Beckstead – 2 bushels shelled corn
Zebulon Springer – 5 bushels corn and 5 bushels potatoes
Correctly transcribed by J. E. Johnson

March 3, 1843: Joseph Smith wrote, “Bishop Newel K. Whitney returned from Ramus this evening with five teams loaded with provisions and grain, as a present to me which afforded me very seasonable relief” (28).

March 4, 1843: “[Joseph Smith] in council with Brother Benjamin F. Johnson and others from Ramus, on the subject of building a meetinghouse there, out of Church property.” 9 a.m. Brother Benjamin Johnson and the brethren from Ramus, who came from [there] to bring provisions . . . agreed to go with Hyrum Smith to Ramus one week today—Brother Johnson wanted to know if they might build a meetinghouse in Ramus out of church property. Joseph said the property of the church should be disposed of as the church said, it was for them to decide . . . There is a wheel. This is the Hub (a reference to Nauvoo) we will drive the first spoke in Ramus, the second in LaHarpe, the third in Shokokon, and the fourth in Lima—half of the wheel. The other half is over the river. We will let that alone at present” (29).

March 11, 1843: “At nine a. m., I [Joseph Smith] started in company with Brother Brigham Young, to Ramus, and had a delightful drive. Arrived at Brother McCleary’s at a quarter to four. Lodged with Brother Benjamin F. Johnson. In the evening, when pulling sticks, I pulled up Justus A. Morse, the strongest man in Ramus, with one hand” (30).

March 12, 1843: Joseph Smith preached to the Saints at Ramus in the morning. He took as his text 14th chapter of John, 2nd verse:—“In my Father’s house are many mansions. I found the brethren well, and in good spirits. In the afternoon, Brother Brigham preached. Stayed at Brother Benjamin F. Johnson’s all night” (31). 

March 13, 1843: “I [Joseph Smith] wrestled with William Wall, the most expert wrestler in Ramus, and threw him. In the afternoon, held a Church meeting. Almon W. Babbitt was appointed, by the vote of the people, the presiding elder of that place. In the evening meeting twenty-seven children were blessed, nineteen of whom I blessed myself, with great fervency. Virtue went out of me, and my strength left me, when I gave up the meeting to the brethren” (32).

March 13, 1843: Joseph Smith selected Almon W. Babbitt to replace John Lawson as president of the Ramus Branch. The name Macedonia is mentioned for the first time in conjunction with the branch (33).

March 14, 1843: “Elder Jedediah M. Grant enquired of me [Joseph Smith] the cause of my turning pale and losing strength last night while blessing children. I told him that I saw that Lucifer would exert his influence to destroy the children that I was blessing, and I strove with all the faith and spirit that I had to seal upon them a blessing that would secure their lives upon the earth; and so much virtue went out of me into the children, that I became weak, from which I have not yet recovered; and I referred to the case of the woman touching the hem of the garment of Jesus. (Luke, 8th chapter). The virtue here referred to is the spirit of life; and a man who exercises great faith in administering to the sick, blessing little children, or confirming, is liable to become weakened. Elder Brigham Young and myself returned from Ramus, and after a severely cold ride in a heavy snowstorm, arrived in Nauvoo about four p. m.” (34).

April 1843: The Ramus High Council agreed to build a brick building to house the Macedonian Religious and Literary Seminary. It was funded by $1,000 of Church funds. The high council planned to build the seminary on the south side of the public square on property owned by Richards & Young (35).

April 1, 1843: “I [Joseph Smith] started in company with Orson Hyde and William Clayton for Ramus. The roads were very muddy. We arrived about half-past six, p. m., and were very joyfully received by Brother Benjamin F. Johnson, where we slept for the night.” Benjamin F. Johnson reported, “About the first of April 1843, the Prophet with some of the Twelve and others came to Macedonia to hold a meeting, which was to convene in a large cabinet shop owned by Brother Joseph E. (Johnson) and myself, and as usual he put up at my house. Early on Sunday morning he said, “Come Brother Bennie, let us have a walk.” I took his arm, and he led the way into a by-place in the edge of the woods surrounded by tall brush and trees. Here, as we sat down upon a log he began to tell me that the Lord had revealed to him that plural or patriarchal marriage was according to His law; and that the Lord had not only revealed it to him but had commanded him to obey it” (36).

April 2, 1843: Joseph Smith wrote, “At ten a.m. went to meeting. Heard Elder Orson Hyde preach, comparing the sectarian preachers to crows living on carrion, as they were more fond of lies about the Saints than the truth. Alluding to the coming of the Savior, he said, ‘When He shall appear, we shall be like Him, &c. He will appear on a white horse as a warrior, and maybe we shall have some of the same spirit. Our God is a warrior. (John xiv, 23.) It is our privilege to have the Father and Son dwelling in our hearts, &c.’ Joseph added, “We dined with my sister Sophronia McCleary, when I told Elder Hyde that I was going to offer some corrections to his sermon this morning. He replied, “They shall be thankfully received.” The corrections are contained in Doctrine and Covenants 130.

May 16, 1843: “At eleven o’clock, with George Miller, William Clayton, Eliza and Lydia Partridge and J. M. Smith, I [Joseph Smith] started for Carthage, where we tarried about half-an-hour conversing with different individuals, when we started for Ramus; arrived about half-past three, p.m., and stayed at William G. Perkins for the evening; then went to Benjamin F. Johnson’s with William Clayton to sleep. Before retiring, I gave Brother and Sister Johnson some instructions on the priesthood; and putting my hand on the knee of William Clayton, I said: ‘Your life is hid with Christ in God, and so are many others. Nothing but the unpardonable sin can prevent you from inheriting eternal life for you are sealed up by the power of the Priesthood unto eternal life, having taken the step necessary for that purpose’” (37). Joseph also said on this day in Ramus, “Except a man and his wife enter into an everlasting covenant and be married for eternity, while in this probation, by the power and authority of the Holy Priesthood, they will cease to increase when they die; that is, they will not have any children after the resurrection. But those who are married by the power and authority of the priesthood in this life, and continue without committing the sin against the Holy Ghost, will continue to increase and have children in the celestial glory. The unpardonable sin is to shed innocent blood, or be accessory thereto. All other sins will be visited with judgment in the flesh, and the spirit being delivered to the buffetings of Satan until the day of the Lord Jesus. . . . In the celestial glory there are three heavens or degrees; and in order to obtain the highest, a man must enter into this order of the priesthood, [meaning the new and everlasting covenant of marriage;] and if he does not, he cannot obtain it. He may enter into the other, but that is the end of his kingdom: he cannot have an increase.”

Benjamin Franklin Johnson wrote, “In the evening he called me and my wife to come and sit down, for he wished to marry us according to the Law of the Lord. I thought it a joke, and said I should not marry my wife again, unless she courted me, for I did it all the first time. He chided my levity, told me he was in earnest, and so it proved, for we stood up and were sealed by the Holy Spirit of Promise” (38).

May 17, 1843: Joseph Smith wrote, “Partook of breakfast at Brother Perkins’; after which we took a pleasure ride through Fountain Green. At ten a.m. preached from 2nd Peter, 1st chapter and showed that knowledge is power; and the man who has the most knowledge has the greatest power. . . . Salvation means a man’s being placed beyond the power of all his enemies. . . . The more sure word of prophecy means a man knowing that he is sealed up unto eternal life by revelation and the spirit of prophecy, through the power of the holy priesthood. It is impossible for a man to be saved in ignorance. . . . Paul saw the third heavens, and I more. Peter penned the most sublime language of any of the apostles. In the afternoon attended council, and afterwards rode with Benjamin F. Johnson’s family. In the evening went to hear a Methodist preacher lecture.”

May 18, 1843: Joseph Smith penned, “We left Macedonia about half past eight a. m. and arrived at Carthage at ten” (39).

July 5, 1843: The Nauvoo Neighbor printed, “Mr. Editor.—Please announce ANDREW PERKINS of Macedonia, for the office of County Commissioner of Hancock County, who will be supported at the August election by MANY VOTERS.”

July 5, 1843: The Nauvoo Neighbor printed, “ALMON BABBIT, Attorney and Counsellor of Law. WILL practice in the several Courts in the fifth judicial district, and throughout the State. All business entrusted to him will receive prompt attention. Macedonia Hancock Co. Ill.” 
September 1843: A. W. Babbitt resigned as presiding elder of the Ramus/Macedonia Branch (40).

September 20, 1843: The Nauvoo Neighbor printed, “A VISIT TO NAUVOO. MR. EDITOR: . . there was a small town called Macedonia (Formerly Ramus) about twenty miles east of Nauvoo, built and inhabited almost exclusively by Mormons. We at once determined to pass through this place, as it was nearly on our route, and ere the rays of the sun illuminated the horizon we were ‘under way.’. . . we came in view of Macedonia. Our beast seemed willing to stop in front of a public house which was by no means the worst in appearance. We were welcomed by our host; our beast being well ‘looked after;’ we set about taking a walk through ‘Town;’ and imagine our surprise when we found every appearance in contrariety to what we had been informed. The buildings, (which seemed mostly new) yards, gardens, barns, &c. seemed well constructed, neatly and tastefully arranged. Macedonia is situated in the great bend of crooked creek, surrounded with numerous mills and good farming lands, &c. I was informed the town had been laid out only about three years; that the population is now near 500 and increasing rapidly and that the inhabitants obtained a liberal incorporation from the Legislature at the last session. The place seemed much unlike any in my knowledge. Mechanics of most kinds seemed plenty and busily employed. Every house seemed occupied. A beautiful square lay near the centre of the town, on which we were informed a house for literary and religious purposes was to be erected. We had an agreeable interview with Messrs. Johnsons, Babbitt, Perkins, and others, who seemed to be intelligent and gentlemen. . . . J. E.

September 20, 1843: The Nauvoo Neighbor printed, “TAKE NOTICE. WHEREAS my wife Elizabeth has absented herself from my house and board, and eloped with one Joseph Jackson, an Englishman, on the eleventh day of August, without any just cause or provocation: I take this method of warning the public not to harbor or credit her on my account, as I shall hereafter pay no debts of her contracting and as she took or caused to be taken from my house all my household furniture, and other property not belonging to me, I hereby offer One Cent for the apprehension and return of said Elizabeth, and a liberal reward for the property. ISAAC ROGERS, Macedonia, Hancock co., III.”

September 25, 1843: John Smith elected as presiding elder of the Macedonia Branch. The following members were rebaptized: (41)
Males rebaptised
Bartholomew, Joseph 
Callister, Thomas 
Carpenter, Samuel E. 
Chrisman, Charles 
Clark, Isaac 
Condit, A. W. 
Crosier, Monroe 
DeHart, Eli 
DeHart, Edward
Elmer, Elijah 
Gaylord, E. B. 
Jackson, Joseph 
Ketchum, Joseph 
Lampher, Martin 
Lawson, John 
McConnell, John
Newman, Jonathan 
Page, Ebenezer 
Page, Finley 
Page, Seymour 
Park, Harvey 
Peck, Thorret 
Roberts, Horace 
Russell, Allen 
Russell, Horace 
Russell, Jonathan 
Shumway, Otis
Terry, William R. 
Thorp, William 
Wallace, Francis 

Females rebaptized
Bartholomew, Polly
Carpenter, Polly
Chrisman, Martha Jane 
Chrisman, Mary
Clark, Polly 
Crosier, Ruth 
DeHart, Hannah
Downey, Adeline
Downey, Mary
Elmer, Elizabeth 
Elmer, Mary 
Gaylord, Mary
Gleason, Clarissa F. 
Hartley, Elizabeth 
Jackson, Ann
Jackson, Charity 
Ketchum, Sophia
Lampher, Carolyn
Larkey, Mary
McConnell, Littica 
Page, Mary L. 
Page, Rachel
Parks, Betsy
Parks, Hulda 
Parks, Jane 
Russell, Lilly
Russell, Nancy
Shumway, Sally
Shun, Drusilla
Terry, Mary A. 
Thorp, Mary Ann 
Thorp, Rebecca 
Tuttle, Mary
Van Houton, Elizabeth
Wallace, Matilda 
Wallace, Sarah
Wetherill, Hannah 
October 19, 1843: About noon Joseph Smith started for Macedonia in company with William Clayton. They arrived there about sundown and stayed at Benjamin F. Johnson’s for the night (42).

October 20, 1843: In the evening Joseph Smith gave instructions to Benjamin F. Johnson and others at Macedonia in relation to the blessings of the everlasting covenant and the sealings of the Priesthood (43).

October 21, 1843: Joseph Smith and William Clayton left Macedonia for Nauvoo” (44).

January 1844: Charles Spry was ordained an elder in Macedonia (45).

February 5, 1844: Anson Allen was ordained an elder in Macedonia. Charles Thompson, Charles Spry, E. Durfee, and Benjamin Andrews recommended to be ordained elders (46). 

February 18, 1844: Church leaders of the Macedonia Branch met at the schoolhouse.

April 21, 1844: Heber C. Kimballattended a conference at Macedonia. 

April 22, 1844: Missionary calls were extended to members of the Macedonia Branch:
William G. Perkins to Missouri
John Allen and W. J. Philps to Illinois
Cyrus Ellsworth to Upper Canada
Joshua Parker to New York City
J. H. Johnson, a roving commission (47).
April 24, 1844: The Nauvoo Neighbor printed, “NEW POST OFFICE.—It will be gratifying to many of our readers, to be informed that a Post Office is established in Macedonia, in this county. J. E. Johnson Esq. has received the appointment of Post Master.”

June 19, 1844: The Nauvoo Neighbor printed, “Public Meeting. A Public meeting was held in the City of Nauvoo, on Sunday Evening the 16th inst. Mr. John Taylor was unanimously called to the chair and Wm. Clayton appointed clerk. The Chairman stated briefly the object of the meeting . . . Resolved, That inasmuch as many false reports are being circulated through this county, by designing characters, for the purpose of bringing persecution upon the peaceable citizens of this city, we will use our endeavors to disabuse the public mind, and present a true statement of facts before them as speedily as possible. . . . appoints delegates to go to the different precincts throughout the county, to lay a true statement of facts before the public. The following delegates were then appointed. . . . Macedonia, Moses Clark and Andrew H. Perkins.

July 3, 1844: The Nauvoo Neighbor printed, “DOINGS OF THE CITY COUNCIL. Special Session. The council was called to devise ways and means for supplying the city with provisions. Dr. Richards, Col. Dunham, Marshal Green & others, stated to the council that many were destitute; and that unless active measures were taken, many must suffer with hunger, as some had already; wherefore it was Resolved, by the city council of the city of Nauvoo, that special committees be appointed to visit the different sections of the surrounding country and solicit the benevolent for donations, or provisions and means for supplying the wants of the destitute of this city. . . . Resolved, That Benjamin Clapp, Samuel James, Hiram Clark, visit Ramus.”

July 31, 1844: The Nauvoo Neighbor printed, “I have been informed that the Mormons about Lima and Macedonia, have been warned to leave the settlements—They have a right to remain and enjoy their property. As long as they are good citizens, they shall not be molested; and the sooner those misguided persons withdraw their warning and retrace their steps, the better it will be for them. THOMAS FORD.”

February 18, 1845: William Perkins became the bishop of Macedonia (48).

March 5, 1845: The Nauvoo Neighbor printed, “LAND, in McDonough County, Ill. to exchange for lands in Hancock County, Ill. Say 400 acres timber and prairie, well proportioned in good cultivation. Also 80 acres; also 125 acres. Enquire of Geo. Miller or John Taylor in Nauvoo, or Wm. G. or Andrew H. Perkins, of Macedonia.”

August 10, 1845: James Fife was named clerk of the Macedonia Branch (49). 

September 16, 1845: The Twelve asked Latter-day Saints in Ramus to leave the town and head to Nauvoo (50).

October 29, 1845: The Nauvoo Neighbor printed, “LIST OF COMMITTEES. Appointed at the general conference, for the sale of lands in Hancock County . . . Macedonia.—Wm. G. Perkins, Isaac Clark, and Andrew H. Perkins (51).


The Webster Cemetery is located one-fourth mile north of the center of Webster. Buried in that cemetery is Catherine Smith Salisbury, sister of the Prophet Joseph Smith. 

Webster cemetery


Ann P. Johnson wife of Joel Hills Johnson
“She heard the Lord unto her say
Go daughter sleep in peace and rest
Until the morning of that day
When the herald’s trump awakens the blest.”
Nancy Maria Johnson daughter of Joel Hills Johnson and Susan Bryant
“The Mother’s Reflection”
How can I begin to record—
The Sorrow with which I am filled,
When Called upon by the Lord—
To part with my only dear Child—.
But when I a moment Reflect
I cease in my heart to Complain
God’s right is to give, & to take—
And Blessed; yea, Ble’st Be his name
I Know that my Babe is at Rest—
Where nothing can trouble it mor—
Can Live & can Sing with the Bles’t.
Where pains and afflictions are Oer—
Its actions are fresh in my mind,—
While viewing the place it has left,—
But Still to Gods will feel Resigned—
Altho of my darling Bereft—
Which now is resigned to the tomb—
The hour that’s appointed for all—
Then why should I mourn at its doom
Or weep for whom Jesus doth call.
I ne’er will so hard hearted be—
Again for to wish it Back here—
When now from all trouble tis free—
Its Soul from all Blemish is Clear—
And now from my mourning I’ll cease.
And try in the name of the Lord
In wisdom & faith to increase
& Live & abide by his word—
That when the Blest Morn doth arrive—
That we Shall arise from the Tomb—
My darling I thee may Receive
When parting shall no more be Known— 
Amos P. Johnson son of Ezekiel and Julia Johnson
“He was a member of the church, & firm believer in the gospel, and Evinced his dependence & his reliance in on the Ordinances of the gospel, to the last. He was patient thro’ all his sufferings & fell asleep without a struggle or a groan.”

Rest in Peace dearest Brother till Jesus shall come 
At the sound of the trumpet come forth from the tomb 
Yea come forth from the Tomb with gladness & hail the blest day 
When thou wast released from thy body of clay.
Possible Deaths

Name Birth Date Death Date Age at Death Cause of death
Levi McFadden Perkins 3 Apr 1821 19 Sep 1834    
Emily Almeda Page     2 y 6 m 18 d Diarrhea
Lydia Turner     76 y Bilious fever
Guy Greer     66 y 29 d Black canker
Eliza Antoinette Johnson     11 m 6 d Pulmonary consumption
Louisa Tharp 1830 23 Sep 1833    
William T. Duff 25 Dec 1786 24 Oct 1837    
Stephen Hardin Yager 1 Jun 1794 10 Dec 1837    
Polly Pierce Elmer 1814 28 Oct 1839    
Joseph C. Crosier 16 Mar 1839 19 Mar 1839    
Amanda Parsons 1836 1840    
Michael W. Tharp 1820 1840    
David Holbrook 11 Feb 1840 11 Feb 1840    
Anna Pixley Johnson  14 Aug 1800 18 Sep 1840 40 y 1 m 4 d  
Abel Prior 1770 1841    
Malinda Hunter Mason 18 Mar 1805 1841    
Joseph Telford 1837 1841    
David Woodland Wakley 29 May 1840 1841    
Cynthia Tuttle 21 Apr 1841 1841    
Morris Moroni William Holbrook 31 Aug 1841 31 Aug 1841    
Elanson Tuttle, Jr. 4 Apr 1839 21 Sep 1841    
Ellen Tuttle 19 Jul 1840 2 Oct 1841    
Ellen Barclay Tuttle 14 Oct 1808 2 Oct 1841    
Female Morse 1842 1842    
Isaac Parsons 1800 1842    
Amanda Bathrick Parsons 1805 1842    
James Crookston 1826 1842    
Female Wightman 1839 4 Feb 1842    
Charles Lewis 8 Mar 1833 12 Feb 1842    
Elizabeth Ann Adella May Terry 8 Feb 1807 5 Apr 1842    
Nancy Maria Johnson 2 Aug 1841 5 May 1842 9 m 13 d  
Amos P. Johnson   13 May 1842 13 y Lingering and severe illness
Alonzo Tuttle 15 Mar 1836 26 May 1842    
Nancy Lampson Holbrook 14 Aug 1804 16 Jul 1842    
Larkin Davis 30 Oct 1826 12 Aug 1842    
Emma Jane Telford 1841 3 Oct 1842    
Ellen Willis 24 Oct 1842 2 Nov 1842    
William Wightman 12 Dec 1807 22 Dec 1842    
Thomas Herrett 1753 1843    
Eleanor Tarbet 22 Jan 1839 1843    
Sarah Caroline Perkins Shipley 28 Sep 1817 Jan 1843    
Emma S. Loveland May 1842 10 Jan 1843    
Dolly Eaton Wightman 12 Sep 1812 13 Mar 1843    
Jacob Spencer Phelps 8 Jun 1840 13 Mar 1843    
Levi Knight 1823 3 Apr 1843    
Lydia Walker 12 Sep 1834 14 Aug 1843    
Lovina Fairchild Wilson 28 Aug 1773 28 Aug 1843    
Julius Moses 19 Aug 1842 25 Sep 1843    
Emily Johnson 20 Nov 1843 20 Nov 1843    
Sabra Elizabeth Stevens 25 Dec 1831 14 Dec 1843    
Findley Page 1844 1844    
Margaret Johnstun 20 Jan 1773 14 Feb 1844    
Julia Maria Thompson 1838 24 Feb 1844 1 y 11 m 19 d Lingering consumption
Benjamin Kempton 8 Dec 1814 4 Mar 1844    
Sarah Ann Taylor 3 Jun 1843 16 Mar 1844    
William Terry 2 Feb 1844 10 May 1844    
Mary Lucinda Thorpe Page 1819 30 May 1844    
Jane Keeler 28 Oct 1844 5 Nov 1844    
William Jackson 15 Feb 1810 1845    
Hyrum Wakley 5 Sep 1845 1845    
Catherine Jane Fife 1843 1845    
James Bliss 1835 1845    
Elizabeth Towne Clark Morse 24 Feb 1804 9 Mar 1845    
Elizabeth Kesiah Benson 11 Jan 1845 13 Mar 1845    
William Neill Haws 27 Jul 1789 28 Apr 1845 55 y 9 m 1 d Dropsy in the chest
George Washington Johnson 20 Mar 1845 28 Jun 1845    
Bridget Besto Herrett 1759 8 Sep 1845    
Permelia Brim White 1806 29 Sep 1845    
Jane Herrett Keeler 1809 1 Oct 1845    
Hyrum Carlos Perkins 20 Sep 1845 10 Nov 1845    
George Jacob Wilson 11 Jun 1845 Dec 1845    
John Lindsay 17 Mar 1802 1846    
Laura Lusetta Thompson 18 Aug 1843 25 Feb 1846    
Joel Hills Johnson, Jr.  23 Jun 1844 27 Feb 1846    
Alanson Burt Shumway 8 Aug 1821 29 Aug 1847    
Ezekiel Johnson 12 Jan 1773 13 Jan 1848    
Seneca James Wright 1850 4 Jun 1851    


  1. Property Deeds in the Rowena Miller Notebooks.
  2. Former and Present Towns and Villages of Hancock County, Illinois, 11.
  3. Joel Hills Johnson Biography. Joseph Smith Papers.
  4. “Macedonia,” in Platt, Early Branches of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, 26-27.
  5. “Macedonia,” in Platt, Early Branches of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, 26.
  6. “Macedonia,” in Platt, Early Branches of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, 26.
  7. Smith, History of the Church, 4: 143-44.
  8. Joel H. Johnson, “Ramus,” Times and Seasons (November15, 1840)” 222-23.
  9. “Macedonia,” in Platt, Early Branches of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, 26-27.
  10. “Macedonia,” in Platt, Early Branches of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, 26.
  11. “Macedonia,” in Platt, Early Branches of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, 26.
  12. “Macedonia,” in Platt, Early Branches of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, 26.
  13. “Macedonia,” in Platt, Early Branches of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, 26.
  14. “Macedonia,” in Platt, Early Branches of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, 26.
  15. Macedonia Branch Records, LR 11808 21, 16. Church History Library. 
  16. Macedonia Branch Records, LR 11808 21, 17. Church History Library. 
  17. “Macedonia,” in Platt, Early Branches of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, 26-27.
  18. Macedonia Branch Records, LR 11808 21, 18. Church History Library. 
  19. Macedonia Branch Records, LR 11808 21, 19. Church History Library; Susan Sessions Rugh, “Those Who Labor in the Earth: The Families and Farms of Fountain Green, Illinois, 1830-1880,” 124. University of Chicago, 1993. 
  20. Smith, History of the Church, 4:468.
  21. Property Deed Book K, 19-20; Hancock County Recorder’s Office; microfilm. Church History Library; Smith, History of the Church, 4:469.
  22. Property Deed Book K, 20.
  23. Joseph Smith Collection, Church History Library.
  24. “Macedonia,” in Platt, Early Branches of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, 27.
  25. “Macedonia,” in Platt, Early Branches of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, 27.
  26. Joseph Smith Office Papers, Church History Library.
  27. “Macedonia,” in Platt, Early Branches of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, 27.
  28. Nelson. A Prophet’s Journal, 213.
  29. Smith, History of the Church, 5:296.
  30. Smith, History of the Church, 5:302.
  31. Smith, History of the Church, 5:302.
  32. Smith, History of the Church, 5:302-3.
  33. Smith, History of the Church, 5:302-3.
  34. Smith, History of the Church, 5:303.
  35. Rugh, Our Common Country. 35.
  36. Johnson, My Life’s Review, 83-84.
  37. Smith, History of the Church, 5:391.
  38. Doctrine and Covenants 131; Susan E. J. Martineau, Young Women’s Journal 17 [1906]:537-548.
  39. Johnson, My Life’s Review, 85-86.
  40. Smith, History of the Church, 5:393.
  41. “Macedonia,” in Platt, Early Branches of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, 27.
  42. “Macedonia,” in Platt, Early Branches of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, 27.
  43. Journal History of the Church, October 19, 1843.
  44. Journal History of the Church, October 20, 1843.
  45. Smith, History of the Church, 6:61.
  46. “Macedonia,” in Platt, Early Branches of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, 27.
  47. “Macedonia,” in Platt, Early Branches of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, 27.
  48. “Macedonia,” in Platt, Early Branches of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, 27.
  49. “Macedonia,” in Platt, Early Branches of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, 27.
  50. “Macedonia,” in Platt, Early Branches of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, 27.
  51. Smith, History of the Church, 7:446.

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Augusta, Lee County, Iowa Territory


Augusta was located across the Lee County line on the Skunk River, approximately eleven miles northeast of Fort Madison. Latter-day Saints residing on the north side of the Skunk River were residents of Des Moines County. Those on the south side of the river resided in Lee County. Most references to Latter-day Saints residing in Augusta are references to those residing in South Augusta which later was known as Denmark Township. The town site of South Augusta was surveyed by Fredrick Kesler in 1835 and by George Berry in 1843.


History of Augusta

One of the most famous residents of South Augusta was Levi Moffit, who built Iowa’s first water-powered flour mill. Joining him in that enterprise was Latter-day Saint Hosea Stout, who wrote, “In the summer of 1840 I moved my family to Augusta . . . about twenty miles from Montrose. I was engaged to build a mill with Brother Lyman Whitney, we together hired a house which had been built to accommodate two families. Brother Whitney moved his family in one part, and I and my family moved into the other” (1).

In October 1842, Levi Moffit and Dan Jones, an experienced steamboat captain, supervised the construction of the “Maid of Iowa,” a small stern-wheeler steamboat. In 1843 the “Maid of Iowa” was purchased by Joseph Smith of Nauvoo and his friend James Adams of Springfield. The steamboat was used as a freight-passenger-ferry-excursion boat.

More importantly, the Augusta Branch was organized in South Augusta with Elder Ira Ames presiding. Hosea Stout, a member of the Augusta Branch, wrote,

We had good meetings and enjoyed the spirit of the gospel. . . . The settlements of the Saints, or branches of the Church on the Iowa side of the Mississippi, were organized into a stake; and John Smith, uncle to the Prophet Joseph, was the president of this stake of Zion. When Uncle John, as he was familiarly called, visited Augusta in going his rounds in the stake, he stopped at my house and we would then hear the news of our friends and the progress being made at Nauvoo. Those visits were much appreciated by us and the instructions we received from him was of great benefit (1).

The township of Augusta still exists today, but South Augusta has disappeared.

Significant Latter-day Saint Events in Augusta

Late summer 1839: The Augusta Branch had 50 members (1).

July 2, 1840: Joseph Smith wrote to Fredrick Kesler of Augusta: “Dear Sir: I was sorry I had not the pleasureof seeing you when you were at this place [Nauvoo]. Ishould have been glad to have had some conversation with you on the subject treated in yourletter, however as I had not that privilege I shallgive you such information on the subject as Ithink will be best. From what I have seen of the Country andfrom the information I have had I think that Augusta—would be a very desirable placefor a location for the saints, and consequently Ishould advise you to proceed in building yourmill and making what other improvements you may think wisdom.
I shall recommend the location to thebrethren as they come along but do not thinkthere will be many come until the fall or earlynext Spring. I will do what I can to find a purchaserfor your brothers house &c—I am sorry that he shouldfeel so inimical to you and to the saints generally.
I probably shall have an opportunity ofseeing you before long when we can converse onthese subjects &c &c &c. I should have been glad if I could have madeit convenient to have come to your place butshall not be able to pay you a visit soon—but hope I shall before the end of the summer. With respects to yourself and all friends

I am Yours &c in the bonds of the Gospel
Joseph Smith Jr (2)

August 8, 1841: Willard Snow reported at a conference of the Zarahemla Stake that there were 50 members of the South Augusta Branch (1).

October 7, 1841: Elder David A. Evans was called to serve as a missionary in Augusta. [1]

November 1841: The Iowa Stake conference was held at Augusta. During the conference Hosea Stout was called upon a mission [to go] among the branches of the church “to preach the gospel and set in order the affairs of the church, and the things that are wanting in whatsoever place or branch they shall come. Alvin E. Graves was called to be his companion. [2]

March 24, 1842: Latter-day Saints in Augusta prepared provisions to send to Camp Creek. [3]

April 1, 1843: Minutes of a conference at Augusta, Lee County, Iowa: James Brown was appointed the presiding elder of the Augusta Branch which numbered eighty-four members in good standing, including two high priests, eleven elders, four priests, two teachers and one deacon. Twelve persons united with the branch. Seven elders, two priests and one deacon were ordained. One of the elders was a Lamanite of the Delaware tribe. A resolution was unanimously passed to uphold the First Presidency and follow their counsels, and to use their utmost endeavors to build the Nauvoo House as well as the Temple. A number of discourses were preached during the conference, and several persons requested baptism at the close. [4]

April 24, 1843: Orson Hyde, John Taylor, George A. Smith, Wilford Woodruff, and Willard Richards met in council in my office, and agreed to go to Augusta, Iowa, to spend the next Sabbath and devise means to secure the property which has been purchased of Moffat by the Nauvoo House trustees. [5]

April 30, 1843: A conference was held in Augusta which was presided over by President John Smith of the Zarahemla Stake. Approximately 200 Latter-day Saints attended the conference. By this time Augusta was a “flourishing town” with three saw mills and two flour mills.Five members of Quorum of the Twelve visited the branch to solicit support for construction of the Nauvoo House. [6]

May 2, 1843: Elders Brigham Young, Heber C. Kimball, Wilford Woodruff, George A. Smith, and Joseph Young returned from Augusta, Iowa, to Nauvoo. [7]

May 9, 1843: Joseph Smith wrote, “[We] in company with my wife, mother, and my adult family, also Sidney Rigdon, Parley P. Pratt, John Taylor, Wilford Woodruff, and about one hundred gentlemen and ladies, went aboard theMaid of Iowa,started at ten minutes before eight a.m., from the Nauvoo dock, under a salute of cannon, having on board a fine band of music. I started with the intention of visiting Augusta; but, in consequence of the lowness of the Skunk river, it was impracticable. We therefore altered our course to Burlington, touching at Fort Madison on our way up, and at Shokoquon on our return.” [8]

July 23, 1843: Joseph Smith wrote, “Sent George J. Adams to Augusta to procure some articles for the temple.” [9]

September 8, 1843: Joseph Smith wrote, “I directed William Clayton to go to Augusta, Iowa, to get a deed signed by Mr. Moffit for the steamer Maid of Iowa. The deed was signed on the ninth.” [10]

March 27, 1844: The Nauvoo Neighbor printed, “THE SUBSCRIBER has a suitable building for the manufacturing of woolen clothes, which he will rent to any individual wishing to engage in that business, on reasonable terms; or if preferred, will give employment to a person who is thoroughly acquainted with the manufacture of woolens, if application is made soon at his residence in Augusta, Iowa Territory. LEVI MOFFIT.”

March 27, 1844: Dr. Willard Richards wrote to the Saints at Augusta, Lee County, Iowa, requesting a brief history of the settling of that branch, and also asking a donation of lumber for his house. [11]

March 27th.1844
To Mr. Moffitt [Levi Moffit]— and the Saints at Augusta, LeeCo. Iowa.
Dear Sir, and Brethren; I address this communication toMr.Moffittbecause,— I have understood the presiding elder of your place is absent, and because I am particularly acquainted with friend Moffittand knowhim to be a philanthropist, and have already spoken to him on the subject I am about to introduce. It is now seven years since I have laid my head one nightin my own house; during that time I have been in Englandnear four years,and the remainder of the time, have spent in writing the History of the churchof Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, which, of course will afford no incomeuntil it is completed and printed which cannot possibly be done for one or twoyears. It is a great work and all important to the church— and world,and I wish that some one of your number would give me, before long,a brief history of the settling and prosperity of Augustafor the benefit of thehistory:—I have deputed our well beloved brother Elder Thomas Richardsonto carry you this letter and tell you that the brethren at Nauvoohavegratuitously dug and stoned me a cellar and have brought brick on theground which are ready to lay in a house, and which they are ready to layas soon as timbers can be procured, and something furnished them to eatwhile laboring. There is no lumber in Nauvoo; and I have no means ofpurchasing any, and must remain houseless or quit the great work thatengrosses my attention, unless my friends abroad stretch forth the helpinghand, and knowing your liberality I am free to send you the followingbill of lumber needed to complete my house as drawn by Brother [William] Weeks,the architect of the Temple— who kindly proffered to oversee the woodwork of my house,—66 Joists 2 by 8—10 feet long, 2000 feet flooring 1¼ inch thick, 2,500 feet of ½ inch boards for lath 50 pieces studding—2 by 4,—8 ½ feet long 32 Rafters 3 by 5—2 feet long 700 feet of sheeting. 5,500 Shingles. And if the friends and Brethren at Augustawill do methe favor to forward the above bill by Brother Richardson, they willnot onlydo afavortomefor which my heavenly Father will bless them but the mostimportant favor will be directly to God’s kingdom,—by delivering me fromthe dilemma in which I am placed so that I may prosecute the great workcommitted to my charge.—I have long desired to visit your place and see friend Moffitt, Brothers Lavender, <Pincock> &c. &c. scores of which I have not timeto name, But this, at present is impossible, Elder [John] Taylorstarted for your place last Saturday, carrying the abovebill, but was hindered on hisway, Receive brother Richardson as a servant of God—and as your liberalitythrough him to me shall abound, so shall the blessings of heaven and earthabound to you. How can theSonofManexpect to find a place to layhis head on earth; if his servants who are not hated,by the world,half as much as he is cannot have a place. Not that I wish tourge you, brethren, for I know your liberality, and that you will doright—therefore I say God bless you for ever. Every preparation is making for the furtherance of the Temple,— and we firmly hope to see the roof on this season. Thereis a better spirit in general in Nauvoothan ever before and we shallgo it hard to elect Gen. Smith to the Presidency. Bro. Richardson willtell you more than I can write about things here so I subscribe myselfyour friend and brother in the Gospel of Jesus Christ.
Willard Richards. [12]

1844: The Augusta Branch was discontinued. Members were directed to move to Nauvoo. [13]

December 4, 1844: The Nauvoo Neighbor printed, “WANTED IMMEDIATELY.—Two experienced Blacksmiths for one year or more. Men of families would be preferred.
A. B. FULLER. Augusta, Lee County, I. T.

April 7, 1845: The Nauvoo Neighbor printed, “STOLEN. One bay mare, fifteen hands high, four or five years old, thin in order, well made, short heavy ears, from the Temple committee stable, on the east corner of the Temple block, on the night of the 28th of March. Whoever may detect or give information, so that I can get the mare, shall have ten dollars, or twenty five dollars for the mare and thief together. Give information to the Temple committee in Nauvoo, or to the subscriber in Augusta, Iowa Territory. JAMES BROWN, Augusta.”

November 1845: Anti-Mormon meetings were held in Augusta to get rid of the few Mormons left in Lee and Des Moines counties.



The Augusta Cemetery is located in the Augusta Township Section 24 at the north end of the Skunk River Bridge (2).


The Jesper Cemetery is located at Old Geode Park on the North Bank of the Skunk River. It is believed to be the oldest pioneer cemetery in Iowa.

The following names and death dates were taken from The ones in red type are from the Jesper Cemetery (14).

Name Birth Date Death Date
Elizabeth Keck 23 Nov 1803 29 May 1838
John L. Roff 1805 21 Aug 1838
Esther Moffet Mar 1838 12 Sep 1838
Sarah Porter Willard 11 Sep 1816 26 Jun 1841
Emily Moffet 1841 14 Apr 1842
George C. Davis 1840 24 Oct 1842
Charles H. Holtzclaw 1807 18 Nov 1842
George W. Luckey 1835 24 Nov 1842
Baby Bowman 1844 1844
Mary Jane Bowman 13 Nov 1826 1844
George E. Jester 1843 28 Dec 1843
Lucy Orton Manning 1819 4 Mar 1844
Sarah Jane Smith Burkett 5 Jan 1787 1846
Josiah Hobson 22 Dec 1788 1846
Sarah Hepner 1845 10 Feb 1846
Abram C. Jester 9 Jun 1845 2 Sep 1846
Elizabeth L. Nutt 26 Nov 1846 28 Nov 1846
Daniel Harty 1781 Nov 1847
Augustus Moffet 1846 1 Oct 1848
Josephine Moffet 1848 11 Jun 1849
Elizabeth Moffet 30 Apr 1836 4 Jul 1849
Levi Moffet 30 Apr 1836 4 Jul 1849


  1. Smith, History of the Church , 4:429.
  2. Hosea Stout Diary, 72–73.
  3. Smith, History of the Church , 5:310.
  4. Smith, History of the Church , 5:318; “Augusta, Lee, Iowa,” in Platt, Early Branches of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints , 4.
  5. Smith, History of the Church , 5:369.
  6. “Augusta, Lee, Iowa,” in Platt, Early Branches of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints , 3–4.
  7. Smith, History of the Church , 5:371.
  8. Smith, History of the Church , 5:385.
  9. Smith, History of the Church , 5:541.
  10. Smith, History of the Church , 6:10.
  11. Smith, History of the Church , 6:278.
  12. History, 1838–1856, volume E-1 [1 July 1843–30 April 1844]. In Joseph Smith Papers.
  13. “Augusta, Lee, Iowa,” in Platt, Early Branches of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints , 3–4.

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Genoa, Nebraska

(Beaver Creek)


Genoa (Beaver Creek), Nebraska, was founded by Mormons as a stop on The Brigham Young Express and Carrying Company (Y X) in 1857. It was abandoned in 1859 when the town Genoa was given to the Pawnee for their reservation headquarters and the Mormons were forced to leave. This list of those who signed a petition and came from Jessica Lawson in Genoa, Nebraska. The Genoa Museum also has the original of Henry Hudson 's diary on display. (1)

Location of Genoa, Nebraska, map courtesy

"The valiant group [of Mormons traveling to the Salt Lake Valley] made their way to the bank of the Platte River which would be their guide for the next 600 miles. The trail wasn't a narrow pathway in the same sense as a road. It was a corridor which might be a few dozen yards wide to several miles in width depending on the terrain. The oxen dictated the traveling speed and could only make about two miles an hour; slower than a man could walk. The Mormons eventually arrived at Beaver Creek south of Genoa. The stream was 20 feet wide and two feet deep. However, the west bank was very deep. A rope was hooked to the tongue of each wagon and 12 men hauled the wagons across one at a time. The Loup River posed another obstacle. The crossing site had sandbars, quicksand and a rapid current that reached waist-high in places. The river was 400 yards wide and split into two streams by a large sandbar in the middle. They had to unload the wagons and carry their goods across. The empty wagons were then pulled over by a rope. Once everything was loaded back in the wagons the company traveled south where they spent the weekend. This was the period that the Mormons passed the present site of Genoa.

"It was decided by some to locate in this area. Under the leadership of Henry and Sarah Hudson, founders of Genoa, a colony was set. The following is a description of Genoa from Henry Hudson's diary:

'The city of Genoa is about 102 miles from Florence (Omaha), contains about 400 acres, 10 acres to a block, 8 lots in a block, 18 rods long, 9 rods wide; the streets cross at right angles 4 rods wide. It has bluffs to the north gradually descending to the east, south and west. The ground is higher in the center of the public square and you have a view of the east some 20 miles. To the south the Loup fork can be seen with ever shifting sandbars, spotted with islands of cottonwoods, box elder, willow and some cedar; farther in the distance are the bluffs dividing the Loup and Platte Rivers.'

"Great haste was made to plow, plant, and fence their fields. More than 2000 acres were enclosed with ditches and a sod fence. The city of Genoa was settled by the Mormons in 1857 and was incorporated in 1884. Wagon ruts can still be seen carved into the prairie by the wheels of the travelers' caravan." (2)

Link to Information about Present-day Genoa



  1. "Genoa, 1857-1859," Winter Quarters Project Archive, Brigham Young University.
  2. Genoa, Nebraska Historical Facts, "The Mormons,"

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Lamoni, Decatur County, Iowa


"Lamoni, 113 m. (1,126 alt., 1,739 pop.), was platted in 1879 as a colony for members of the Reorganized Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints [not to be confused with The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints], who had come to Iowa from Missouri and Nauvoo, Ill. The founding was accomplished by the Order of Enoch, a corporation formed for the purpose of purchasing and developing lands for church settlements. The place was named for a 'righteous kin' recorded in the Book of Mormon.

"In 1881, the Herald, official church publication, was moved here from Plano, Ill.

Graceland College Image Source:

"Graceland College (1895) makes Lamoni an educational center for the denomination, but the church offices have been removed to Independence, Mo. Fourteen college buildings, including several cottages, have been erected around the highest point of a 70-acre campus. A 300-acre tract of farm land, adjacent to the campus, provides employment for students, and supplies the kitchen with poultry and fresh dairy, garden, and orchard products. The institution . . . became a junior college in 1915; in 1923-24 the third year of instruction was added. Annual events include the presentation of some oratoria by the Graceland Oratorio Society.

"At 117 m. US 69 crosses the Missouri Line, 124 miles N. of Kansas City, Mo." (1)


Location of Lamoni, Iowa, map courtesy of


Link to Lamoni, Iowa RLDS Branch

Link to Information about the establishment of Lamoni, Iowa

Link to Information about Present-day Lamoni, Iowa



  1. The State Historical Society of Iowa, Iowa: A Guide to the Hawkeye State, Compiled and Written by the Federal Writers' Project of the Works Progress Administration for the State of Iowa American Guide Series, Illustrated (New York: Viking Press, 1941), 393.


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Lost Camp, Clarke County, Iowa


Lost Camp is located “…exactly five miles south of Highway 34 at Osceola on Highway 69…about thirty miles east of Mt. Pisgah” (1).

“Lost Camp was located northwest of Garden Grove, six miles south of present‑day Osceola” (2).

“It was a branch of the church during 1846-1847”(3).


The inscription on the Mormon Trail Marker near Osceola, Iowa says, “In 1846, seven Mormon families became separated from the larger body of migrants. They stopped for the winter in present-day Green Bay Township, Clarke County, and established what was known as ‘Lost Camp’. These families remained in the area until 1854 when they resumed to the trek to Utah” (4).

“Six or seven comprising those of two Langwells and two Conyers and two or three others had stopped in the middle of Green Bay Township and settled down under the slope of a hill as if to avoid detection. A large body of Mormons had stopped at Garden Grove for the winter, but these few families had lost their way and settled at this location, which they appropriately named Lost Camp” (5).

Jonathan C. Wright left Kanesville in January or February of 1848 for a mission to the east. He went to Mt. Pisgah, Lost Camp, Chariton Point, Lone House, Soap Creek, and Iowaville (6).

Margaret Merrill gave birth to a son in the back of her family’s wagon. Albert, her husband, tried to keep up with the company, but after four miles, it became clear that his wife could not handle the jolts coming from the wagons. The company pressed on ahead and the Merrill family camped on the prairie. To complicate matters even more, Albert Merrill caught a fever and could do nothing to help himself or his family. When she tried to take care of her husband, Margaret came down with a cold and was no longer able to take care of her baby. This was the state Parley P. Pratt, who was on his way to Europe to serve a mission, found the Merrill family. He sent some men to drive their team to Garden, but instead the men took the Merrill family to a place called Lost Camp (7).


Albert Merrill, 7/17/1816; Margaret Ann Richison Merrill, 11/15/1816; Clarence Merrill, 5/18/1843; Franklin Merrill, 3/17/1843; Albert Merrill Jr., 10/10/1848; Margaret Merrill, 12/19/1850. It would appear that the Merrill family lived in Lost Camp until they continued their journey to the Salt Lake Valley. On June 7, 1852, the Merrill family, as members of the Thomas C.D. Howell Company departed for Utah. They arrived on September 2, 11-12, 27, 1852 (8). 

John Conyer
James Longley
John Longley (9)
Samuel Kendall Gifford (10)



  1. Kimball, Stanley B. The Mormon Trail Network in Iowa 1838-1863: A New Look. 422. Web.
  3. Kimball, 422.
  6. Hartley, William G. Latter-day Saints at Iowaville, Iowa: 1846-1851. 41. Web.
  9. &dq=%22lost+camp%22+iowa&source=bl&ots=GyKXdtn4On&sig=U5ufjCqG3 _moQ3eyoHtCPd8I5W4&hl=en&sa=X&ei=xbp6Uq3zN8GLjALn6oDICQ&ved =0CEkQ6AEwBA#v=onepage&q=%22lost%20camp%22&f=false

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Pawnee Camp


Location of Genoa, Nebraska, map coutesy

In 1844 James Emmett led a group West. He told the group he had been instructed by Joseph Smith, before the Prophet's death, to lead an advance party out of Nauvoo. The group dwindled in numbers because of various problems (see William Hartley's My Best for the Kingdom: History and Autobiography of John Lowe Butler for details ). Eventually a much smaller group wintered in 1845-46 at Ft. Vermillion in South Dakota. In the summer of 1846 the James Emmett Company was merged into George Miller 's Company. Most of the Emmett Company remained with Miller and went to Ponca. Lyman Hinman and Gardner Potter went with Jacob Gates to Pawnee Camp.

A few members of the Brigham Young, Heber C. Kimball, George Miller/James Emmett companies stayed at the Pawnee Station which is a few miles west of current day Genoa, Nebraska, instead of going to the Ponca Camp in current day Niobrara, Nebraska. They arrived in August of 1846 and were recalled to Winter Quarters, arriving there in October, 1846. This list came from the life of Fielding Garr (Fielding Garr, 1794-1855 and His Family: Early Pioneers on Antelope Island by A. M. Cutler.)

Babcock, Dolphas
Badger, Rodney (Young)
Casteel, Jacob
Dana, Lewis
Dolton, Charles
Garr, Fielding (Young)
Gates, Jacob (Young)
Hinman, Lyman
(Emmett) Mitchell, William
Newsom, Joseph
Potter, Gardner (Emmett)
Shepherd, Ransom (Young)
Shumway, Charles
Whitney, Ephraim


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Ponca Camp


Companies organized by Brigham Young and Heber C. Kimball at the Cold Springs Camp combined with George Miller 's Company and became the advance parties for the Church. They made their start from Kanesville, Iowa, in July 1846, and they made the first wagon wheel marks up the Platte Valley. In early August, they had halted near a Pawnee Village, with its extensive corn fields stretching for miles around it.  While in camp at Pawnee Station, presumably near Columbus or Genoa, where soldiers were stationed, they contracted with the government to harvest a crop of small grain and corn which had been put in by laborers, but who, becoming frightened by the Pawnees, had fled. While thus engaged in the close of the harvest, a courier from Kanesville arrived with orders not to proceed farther, as it was feared they could not reach their destination before winter set in, and they should seek winter quarters.

After considering their options, a High Council headed by George Miller voted to go north to winter with the Ponca or Punca Indian Tribe on the Niobrara (Running Water, Swift Water) River. Ponca Indians, visiting the Pawnee Village, told President Miller their own camp, 150 miles north, was a good wintering place because of great quantities of rushes on which cattle could feed.  Miller accepted the offer and on August 13, 1846, ordered the Knight‑Miller wagon train to start its eleven‑day trek northward, guided by Poncas.

On the 19th, the train crossed the Elkhorn into buffalo country, and the next day Brother Emmet killed two buffalo.  On the 22nd, they camped on a "rich, green pasture" by a stream where "our women made ready a dish of buffalo meat of which we partook, a rich repast quite new to most of us.  It tasted very good (1)."

They "saw numerous herds of buffalo passing to and fro about us in plain view."  Hunters in the group became animated and acted "more wild than the buffalo."  Newel believed "the red men are the rightful owners," so Saints needed to honor "their usages and customs."  To keep the Indians' confidence and friendship, Newel influenced the other captains to ban hunting until Indians gave them permission (1).

On August 23 the company arrived at the Ponca settlement at Running Water.  Newel wrote: 
“We came to Running Water a little after noon.  We had been here but a short time when we discovered a number of Indians riding over the bluffs swiftly towards us, which plainly indicated their village near.  The Indians flocked in multitudes around us, all eager to see us and our cattle, sheep, hens, pigs, and in fact, almost everything we had was entirely new to them.  They are a nation that have had very little intercourse with the whites and knew very little of civilization (1).”

Three wagon companies of some 500 people were encamped 120 miles up the Missouri River from Winter Quarters among the Ponca Indians. Ponca Camp, as it was called, was led by Bishop George Miller and a 12-man high council, all of whom were in constant contact with President Young and the rest of the Twelve at Winter Quarters.  Newel Knight, longtime friend of the Prophet Joseph Smith since their residence in New York in the 1820s, was a high councilor at Ponca Camp.  He kept a journal and made a list of the members of the Brigham Young Company.

On August 28, 1846, the camp moved to the selected location.  That night a child died of scarlet fever.  On the 29th, Newel spent most of the day in council.  President Miller called on him "to lay before the council such matters as demanded our immediate attention for the general benefit."  Newel proposed work projects for cutting hay, fortifying themselves, and herding cattle away from the settlement (1).

Should each company of ten work separately or should the whole company work unitedly?  President Miller proposed separate work, and his proposal won by one vote.   Then the council agreed on a plan for the fort.  Again, according to Newel, “The houses to be so compact that we can form a blockade between them so that no enemy can get in but by the gates.  The fort will comprise six acres, in the form of a hollow square, and build our schoolhouses in the center of the square (1).”

During the last day of August, Newel directed the laying of 112 stakes marking each lot of the fort.  Meanwhile a group armed with scythes, rakes, and pitchforks began making hay, while other men cut house logs.  Some men also sowed discord, evidently unhappy with the site, so that by evening, President Miller said anyone who wanted to find a better location could leave.  The next day Brothers Lathrop and John Kay led a party away to find a better site.

On September 2, 1846, by invitation, the council visited the Poncas where "the old chief" said the Mormons could settle upriver if they wished.  As soon as this news reached the Saints' camp, Newel said, they insisted on looking for a better location upriver.  President Miller favored more looking, Newel counseled Saints to stay put (1).

When President Miller blew the horn for the people to assemble, the council laid their views before the brethren in favor of the present location.  Newel penned, “my first objection to moving was that we have cut considerable hay and house logs, which will probably be lost in case we move, and it is so late in the season before we can collect our cattle and get settled in a new place, the probability is it will be too late to cut hay, as the season is very dry and the grass is fast drying, so that we can have nothing for our Milch [milk] cows and cattle that we shall sometimes want to keep at home or for any of our stock in case of storms or emergencies that may arise.  Another objection is [that] this place is so situated that in case any of us shall stop here to raise a crop next year, the advantage for farming far exceeds that above; water is also much more convenient here.  There is an excellent mill site, there is also a good steamboat landing at Missouri River less than half a mile from our ford.  These last mentioned privileges we cannot have at the above place.  The grazing facilities of this place are far superior to those of the new location (1).

Brother James Emmet spoke next in favor of moving. President Miller then said that all who were in favor of moving, go immediately to their wagons.  Most of the people quickly fled from the spot.  The usual labor of the brethren was dispensed with some went hunting, some this way and some that, union and order seemed to be forgotten by many, while others were weighed down with grief and sorrow. 

This evening Lathrop and Kay returned.  They did not bring a cluster of grapes to represent the goodness of the land they had searched out, as did Caleb and Joshua.  They slew a buffalo and came loaded with meat, which satisfied the appetites of some.  For, since they have been restrained from wasting the buffalo, they, like unto the children of Israel, have lusted for flesh, yet if we were to place confidence in signs and figures as the ancients used to, slaying a buffalo and fetching it to be devoured would not represent peace and safety [for] those that followed the men who slew it (1).”

During the next three days the camp divided.  President Miller left for the upriver site with a small group, but "most of them thought they could do better to go down the river, from the report Lathrop gave of the place."  So, Newel called the people together "and after reasoning the matter with them, the most of them concluded to move up, where we moved a little before sundown on the 7th of September."  The next day they laid out the fort and began constructing cabins.   Meanwhile Lathrop and Richardson sought recruits to move down the Missouri, claiming the council approved and blessed their course, which Newel and the council refuted in an express letter to Brigham Young on September 9 (1).

On September 7, 1846, Newel moved with the others upriver where the company laid out another fort and started building cabins again.  By the end of the month President Miller and the council locked horns.  Newel earlier noted that President Miller had a "harsh manner" that "soured people." On September 12, 1846, Newel said the "united action of the council has measurably affected a union with the people.  Lathrop and Richardson have persisted in leaving, but few families are with them (1)."

While Saints held a Sabbath meeting on the 13th, Sioux braves rode up for a visit.  "After the meeting we met and smoked the pipe of peace with them," Newel said, "and our prayer is that the Lord will open the hearts of that nation that they make a covenant of peace with us (1)."

When Sioux warriors killed some cattle, President Miller became irate, and said hard things designed to divide the people and ordered that "his" group separate their cattle from the rest.  He has regarded the council, which has in some degree disaffected the people towards him. 

The next day the council felt it was necessary for the general good of the people that something should be done to restrain President Miller from the course he was pursuing."  They invited him to their meeting.  He came, acknowledged the council, probably was dissatisfied with his herding decision, and justified himself.  Newel spoke, “I arose and made a statement of what I considered to be the order and duty of this council; they all agreed with me and acknowledged that this course had not been observed, which gives rise to disorder.  I told them that as the house of God was a house of order, I thought he would require this council to act in that sphere, and if we have not order and union in our councils, we cannot expect to establish it in our camp, for which cause I am not satisfied with President Miller's doing in some respects.  Not that I would find fault with or injure him, yet I am aware that the cause we are striving to promote demands our united efforts, and as the voice of this council is not valid without the sanction of our President, so his voice is not without a majority of the council.  This is one thing that I am not satisfied with President Miller for-- he has repeatedly wholly disregarded the council and required the people to observe rules and regulations made and given by himself independent of this council, which as I said, has been a determent to the peace and wellbeing of this community (1).”

About October 9, [1846] the council made three decisions which members voted to sustain.  First, they sent Brothers Clark, Shirtclif [Shirtliff] and Houtz to Winter Quarters to recruit provisions.  Second, they decided to build a gristmill, so Newel looked for and found a rock to make a millstone and brought timber to the mill site.  Third, they sent a small party to Fort Laramie to find a wagon route there, who were Brothers Holbrook, Matthews, and Emmet.

On December 26, 1846, the Indians set fire to the prairie. The fires threatened Ponca Camp’s 110 hewn-log cabins. Everyone fought off the fires and saved the fort, but the Saints lost stacks of hay and some wagons. After the fire danger passed, Newel Knight, exhausted by the labor, became very ill.   On January 1, 1847, he seemed to sense his death might be near.  “I scarcely know why I am thus anxious, why this world appears so trifling, or the things of the world.  I almost desire to leave this tenement of clay, that my spirit may soar aloft and no longer be held in bondage, yet my helpless family seem to need my protection, for their sakes, and if I yet have more to do on the earth or can do more good to the living than to the dead, I am willing to remain yet longer in the flesh (1).”

On January 3, 1847, he administered to the sick, and the next day he penned his final entry.  In it he told about the Church meeting in which he was restrained by the spirit from speaking on the sacred doctrinal topic of the law of adoption, and that instead the spirit guided him to preach a need for wandering Israel to cleanse hearts, bodies, garments, houses, and all so they have claim not only on the angels of heaven but also to have "the Lord's presence go before us, while we are journeying in the wilderness (1)." 

Newel Knight died on January 11, probably of pneumonia, one of approximately 17-23 Saints who died and were buried in the camp’s burying ground two miles west of the fort. 

In 1908, a son, Jesse Knight, erected a stately monument at the Ponca Camp site just west of present Niobrara, Nebraska, to honor Newel and others buried there that winter of 1846–47.

 Photos from:

A 1946 Memorial program listed others that died at Ponca Camp.  Research has corrected the names and added other possible burials (3).

Possible Burials

Name Birth Date Death Date
Hyrum Call 3 Dec 1845 15 Jun 1846
Cyril Moroni Call 6 Feb 1838 15 Jun 1846
Cynthia Johnson Drake 1 Aug 1824 Sep 1846
William Calvert 1 Mar 1805 Sep 1846
William Calvert, Jr. 12 Dec 1832 Sep 1846
Anne Hamaker Calvert 22 Feb 1805 2 Sep 1846
Lucian Gardarus Noble 26 Dec 1837 28 Sep 1846
Benjamin Franklin Mayer 16 Mar 1842 29 Sep 1846
Catherine Shumway 28 Sep 1846 29 Sep 1846
Hirum Brigham Young Noble 6 May 1845 6 Nov 1846
Samuel Calvert 22 Nov 1834 1846
Hannah Draper 5 Nov 1816 1846
Lydia Badger 1847 1847
Sarah Elsa Dame 29 Nov 1846 Jan 1847
Sarah Susannah Crandall 24 Mar 1825 5 Jan 1847
Newel Knight 13 Sep 1800 11 Jan 1847
Sophie Andrews Dame 1 Apr 1818 31 Jan 1847
Joseph Emett 15 Jan 1847 1 Feb 1847
Lucy Brass Bronson 26 Jun 1795 7 Feb 1847
Ann Geldard Boyes 5 Apr 1798 14 Feb 1847
Sarah Margaret Tolman 28 Mar 1847 12 Apr 1847

Lathrop’s Camp

Ashael Lathrop and John Mohurn Kay left Ponca Camp for a location further down on the Elkhorn River. Richardson and Solomon Hancock went down there later. It is proposed that about fifty persons went there.

Fort Vermillion’s Camp

In 1844, James Emmett led a group West.  The group dwindled in numbers because of various problems.  Eventually a much smaller group wintered in 1845-46 at Fort Vermillion in South Dakota.  In the summer of 1846, the James Emmett Company remained with Miller and went to Ponca Camp.  Lyman Hinman and Gardner Potter went with Jacob Gates to Pawnee Camp (2).


  1. Knight, Newel, 1800-1847. Newel Knight's journal [Place of publication not identified]: [publisher not identified], [19--?],
  2. Hartley, William George, 1942-2018. My best for the kingdom: history and autobiography of John Lowe Butler, a Mormon frontiersman / William G. Hartley Salt Lake City: Aspen Books, c1993 printed by Publishers Press 1st printing, (accessed: September 2, 2022)
  3. (accessed:  September 2, 2022)

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Zarahemla, Lee County


George W. Gee surveyed the city plat of Zarahemla.  It was located about 1 to 2 miles southwest of Montrose, Lee County in the Iowa Territory.



On July 2, 1839, Joseph Smith and other LDS leaders journeyed to Iowa to inspect the land purchased by Church agent Vinson Knight from Isaac Galland. When Joseph was about a mile west of Montrose, he advised, “A town be built there, and called Zarahemla.” 1  This is Joseph’s earliest known reference to Zarahemla (the name of a land and a city in the Book of Mormon) as a settlement in Lee County, Iowa (see Omni 1:12–14). Under the direction of Joseph Smith, George W. Gee surveyed the land and platted the town site of Zarahemla.  

Before long, the number of Latter-day Saint settlers in Zarahemla rivaled the Mormon population in Montrose. Among those who made Zarahemla their home were newlyweds Elder George A. Smith and his wife Bathsheba Smith. Bathsheba wrote,

We started carpet-bag in hand, to go to his fathers [Uncle John Smith], who lived at Zarahemla, Iowa Territory, about a mile from the Mississippi river. Walked about a mile and a half to the river side. A skiff had just been pushed off, we hailed it, the owner came back took us in and rowed us across the river without charge. We were met by my husband's brother John L. Smith, with a horse and a light wagon who conveyed us to his father's. There we found a feast prepared for us, in partaking of which my husband's father John Smith drank to our health, pronouncing the blessings of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob upon us . . . I was very happy and all of our relations on both sides were well pleased with our marriage. After living at Father Smith's about a month, my husband rented a small log cabin close by and we moved in to it. 2

Although it was anticipated that Zarahemla would overtake Montrose as the largest LDS settlement in Iowa, only about thirty houses were ever built in the township. By 1843 most Latter-day Saints had abandoned their holdings in Zarahemla. After 1846 the settlement of Zarahemla ceased to exist. 

There is no trace of Zarahemla today although locals share traditions about where the town borders may have been. 

Significant Latter-day Saint Events in Zarahemla

July 19, 1840: Uncle John Smith said, “The Saints in Iowa were scattered abroad, some distance from each other. Each neighborhood in their turn was visited. One of the areas was identified as the Timothy Block neighborhood which was located in Zarahemla.” 3 

March 1841: Joseph Smith received a revelation regarding the Iowa Stake. The Lord instructed the “Saints in the Territory of Iowa” to “build up a city unto my name upon the land opposite the city of Nauvoo, and let the name of Zarahemla be named upon it. And let all those who come from the east, and the west, and the north, and the south, that have desires to dwell therein, take up their inheritance in the same” (Doctrine and Covenants 125:3–4). 

April 8, 1841: At a conference in Nauvoo, “a short revelation was read concerning the saints in Iowa. The question had been asked what is the will of the Lord concerning the saints in Iowa. It read to the following effect—Verily thus saith the Lord let all those my saints who are assaying to do my will gather themselves together upon the land opposite Nauvoo and build a city unto my name and let the name of Zarahemla be named upon it. And all who come from the East and West and North and South who have desires let them settle in Zarahemla that they may be prepared for that which is in store for a time to come.” 4

August 8, 1841: At a conference of the Zarahemla Stake held in Zarahemla, it was reported that there were 326 members in the Zarahemla stake. Elder George A. Smith began the conference by announcing the death of Don Carlos Smith, brother of Joseph Smith. Elder John Taylor then addressed the members. Several men were called to be leaders in the branches and stake, including John Smith, Joseph Mecham, William Clayton, and George W. Gee. 5

August 30, 1841: William Clayton was “advised by Brother [Heber C.] Kimball to buy 2 city lots and move into the city of Zarahemla (according to a previous revelation) on the 30th I went over to President John Smith’s and bought two [lots.” 6

December 14, 1841: William Clayton “struggled to farm, be the Branch Clerk, having poor health.” Neighbors helped out by building a fence around his crop but cows knocked it down. On this date, he quit Zarahemla and returned to Nauvoo.” 7

January 8, 1842: A conference was held at Zarahemla. At the conference the stake, organized in 1839, was discontinued. A branch of the church was organized instead, with John Smith as president. 8

April 6, 1843: Joseph Smith wrote, “The snow has nearly all disappeared, except a little on the north side of the hill above Zarahemla, Iowa.” 9

Possible Births

Name Father Mother Birth Date
Emily Electa Williams Daniel Randall Wiliiams Electa Caroline Briggs 23 Sep 1841
Willard Lycurgus Snow Willard Trowbridge Snow Melvina Harvey 8 Mar 1842
Eugene Snow Willard Trowbridge Snow Melvina Harvey 10 Mar 1844
Mary Lovina Phelps Alva Phelps Margaret Robison 27 Sep 1845
Elizabeth Caroline Williams Daniel Randall Williams Electa Caroline Briggs 19 Dec 1845
Almira Marie Snow Willard Trowbridge Snow Melvina Harvey 10 Sep 1846


Groom Bride Date
Harmon Cutler Lucy Ann Pettigrew 29 Aug 1841


The Conlee Farm Cemetery is located at 3030 Hwy 218 just north of junction 61. The Conlee Cemetery, believed to be a Mormon burying ground, is on the property of Vic and Judy Conley. A number of tombstones with inscriptions still legible lie flat on the ground. Some tombstones are elaborate and others quite simple. The oldest inscription on a tombstone reads: “William Clark, born Princeton, N. J., Dec. 11, 1804, died Oct 20, 1846.” By using witching wires (divining rods), the cemetery has been laid off by Mike Foley of Montrose with the consent of Vic and Judy Conlee. Vic Conlee has placed about fifty wooden markers on the supposed burial plots. Each marker is inscribed with “Mormon Pioneer.” Foley and Conlee refer to the cemetery as the “Zarahemla Cemetery.” According to the Daily Gate City on July 3, 1964, the “cemetery lies on property once called Hatton Hill or Hatton Cemetery, and was possibly called Zarahemla.” 10

Possible Deaths

Name Father  Mother Birth Date Death Date
Leonidas Snow Willard Trowbridge Snow Melvina Harvey 31 Mar 1840 28 Aug 1841
Elijah Shaw Edmond Shaw Sarah Cornwell 1778 26 Dec 1842
Erastus Arnold Stevens Arnold Stevens Lois Coon 5 Aug 1844 5 Aug 1844
Eugene Snow Willard Trowbridge Snow Melvina Harvey 10 Mar 1844 13 Jun 1845
Almira Marie Snow Willard Trowbridge Snow Melvina Harvey 10 Sep 1846 10 Sep 1846



  1. “Zarahemla, Iowa,” in Platt, Early Branches of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, 48.
  2. Bathesheba Smith Diary. Lands and Records Office, Nauvoo, IL.
  3. “Zarahemla, Iowa,” in Platt, Early Branches of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, 48.
  4. “History of Joseph Smith,” LDS Millennial Star 28, no. 18 (July 12, 1856): 433.
  5. “Zarahemla, Iowa,” in Platt, Early Branches of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, 48.
  6. William Clayton Diary. In Joseph Smith Papers.
  7. William Clayton Diary. In Joseph Smith Papers.
  8. “Zarahemla, Iowa,” in Platt, Early Branches of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, 48.
  9. Smith, History of the Church, 5:327.
  10. Cindy Iutzi, “Latter-day Saint Pioneers at Zarahemla,” Daily Gate City, July 23, 1964. In Bickell Collection.

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