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History Far West

Far West is located about 30 miles north of Liberty, Missouri. In 1835, when there began to be tension between the Mormons and non-Mormons in Independence, the Mormon Church started looking for a place in Missouri where there were few settlers. They found some land in Ray County. It was very sparsely populated because it was prairie land, which was considered by most settlers at the time, unfit for settling. The Church purchased 1600 acres of this land. Shortly after purchasing this land a large meeting was held by the old settlers of Missouri. During that meeting the anti-Mormons gave five reasons why they disliked the Saints. The reasons were: 1) They were poor, 2) Their religious differences stirred up prejudice, 3) Their Eastern customs and dialects were alien to the Missourians, 4) They opposed slavery, and 5) They believed that the Indians were God’s chosen people destined to inherit the land of Missouri with them. After stating their reasons, it was then decided that the Mormons must live somewhere away from other Missouri settlements.

Far West Temple MormonBecause the Mormon Church had already bought the land in Ray County, they agreed that this was the best solution.The Church leaders told the Missourians that they would settle away from other Missourians, ask the State government to make their area a new county, and even have a six mile buffer—three miles on each side of the dividing line between the two counties, and that neither Mormon nor non-Mormon would settle in that land. On December 29th, 1836, Governor Lilburn Boggs signed a bill that made Ray County two counties: Caldwell and Davies. Caldwell was the Mormons’ County.A site was chosen for a city, and it was named Far West. The area was quickly settled starting in 1836. In March of 1838, Joseph Smith, the Mormon Church’s prophet, officially moved to Far West from Kirtland, Ohio, because of persecution in Kirtland. That April, Joseph Smith received a number of important revelations that are recorded in Doctrine and Covenants sections 113-115 and 117-120. These revelations included the correct name of the Mormon Church (The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints), a command to build a temple in Far West (Doctrine and Covenants 115:7), and the law of tithing.By the summer of 1838, the population of Caldwell County had reached five thousand, and more than half lived in Far West. By this time in Far West the Saints had built 150 homes, four dry goods stores, three family grocery stores, several blacksmith shops, two hotels, a printing shop, and a large schoolhouse that doubled as a church and courthouse. However tension had begun to increase again between the Mormons and their Missouri neighbors.

By October, the tension had erupted. Governor Boggs signed an order that the Mormons were to be either driven from the state or exterminated. He based his order solely on rumors that the Mormons were planning an insurrection, but he never visited Caldwell County. That same day, a Missouri army laid siege on Far West. For weeks before this, mobs had been attacking smaller outlying communities forcing the Mormons to all try and take refuge in Far West. By October 31st, the Missouri army outnumbered the Saints 5 to 1. Leaders of the Church agreed to talk with militia leaders to end the siege, but instead of talking, the militia leaders arrested them and held an illegal court marshal that sentenced the men to death in the morning. The sentence was never carried out, due to the refusal of certain Missouri leaders to participate in the spilling of innocent blood, but Joseph Smith, Sidney Rigdon, Lyman Wight, Parley P. Pratt, and George W. Robinson were held as prisoners for five months. After the leaders were taken as prisoners, the militia entered Far West and took arms, robbed, raped, and arrested others. The Saints were harassed so much that they eventually left Missouri and took refuge in Illinois even though it was the middle of winter.

Today the Mormon Church owns property where Far West once was located.

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