Members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (originally called the Church of Christ) are no strangers to the concept of sacred space. Whole congregations reverence weekly rituals, like the sacrament, in one space designed to bless and administer bread and water to sanctify the lives of individual members. The membership also forms and maintains sacred space in Mormon temples by practicing selective entrance, performing exclusive saving ordinances, making promises, and even by dressing in white and wearing priesthood robes. These theologically significant spaces require careful etiquette and personal conviction, but they are commonly understood and considered sacred by the membership. Interestingly, the sense of sacredness within each of the temples and churches is dependent upon visitors’ reverent interaction while in that space. In the minds of Latter-day Saints, these places are set apart for a higher purpose that they habitually engage with through church services and temple practices.
Interest in sacred space is not just a Mormon preoccupation. Religious scholars have been fascinated by how individual actors and communities of believers form and maintain sacred space. For decades, the work of Mircea Eliade, a former professor of religion at the University of Chicago, has prompted research about what makes something sacred. By analyzing sacredness in opposition to the secular world, he and many other scholars have seen the distinction of the sacred and the profane as an important dichotomy to understand sacredness. Rituals, objects, and actions differentiate holy places and focus believers on a temporal reality that allows them access to divine realities. Eliade’s research suggests that which is sacred is real, and the sanctity of a place or thing can be given value primarily in the description of its origins. Like sacred sites in other religious traditions, the Mormon temple focuses on a single creation narrative that initiates the beginning of God’s sacred history. Because the Mormon temple endowment retells the Creation story as part of a ritual process, it connects the individual to the sacred history of Mormonism and infuses the temple with religious meaning. In these sacred places, Mormons are momentarily released from the temporality of death as they break its bonds through vicarious works for the dead. In the process they transcend what Eliade calls the “terror of history” and become an important part of God’s sacred and eternal plan.
According to scholars studying sacred space, these places are an expression of ultimate reality, but their holiness cannot be maintained arbitrarily. Though Mormons design the architecture and builders construct their temples under cultural norms, the rituals performed inside are distinct and exceptional to Mormonism. To them the ordinances are required for salvation and can only be performed in the temple. In this respect, their temples are distinctive. In contrast, other less protected places within Mormonism, where ordinances are not performed and the sites are open to the public, may seem far less holy. However, the connection with God’s plan, or ultimate reality, is also exhibited in other places across the landscapes of Mormonism.
Laie Hawaii Temple. Courtesy of Religious Education, Brigham Young University.
Mormonism’s sacred history also manifests itself in sites outside the temple. Though LDS historic sites do not maintain the same kind of salvific significance or ritual process as the temple, they provide a space that the individual can connect to Mormonism’s sacred history. God’s eternal cosmic plan is often described and valued throughout Mormonism, but the inevitable path forged through earth life is equally understood and appreciated. In particular, the Restoration of the gospel (priesthood, church, scripture, and so forth) by Joseph Smith in the 1830s has specific relevance to Latter-day Saints today. The Restoration initiated the end of a teleological journey through God’s plan that began with the Creation. Most importantly, Joseph Smith ushered in the last dispensation (the dispensation of the fulness of times) and the preparatory period preceding the Second Coming of Christ.
Without the idea of a restoration of God’s Church by Joseph Smith, the Latter-day Saints’ sacred narrative, or “plan of salvation,” is less distinct. Like the origins of mankind in the Garden of Eden, the Restoration marks the establishment of new life, while also ushering in the Second Coming of Christ. The Book of Mormon emphasizes Joseph Smith’s Restoration in prophetic expressions, including panoptic visions that reveal the establishment of a church and the translation of the Book of Mormon. The prophet Nephi even recorded a vision of Joseph of Egypt in which he highlighted Joseph Smith and the Restoration. He saw “a seer” whom God would “raise up out of the fruit of [his] loins.” Mormon scripture describes the establishment of a church by Joseph Smith as a crowning event in God’s plan. After Smith was killed in the summer of 1844, a later canonized editorial declared that “Joseph Smith, the Prophet and Seer of the Lord, has done more, save Jesus only, for the salvation of men in this world, than any other man that ever lived in it.”
Mormons today study the history and visit the Restoration sites, which enable individual members to envision their sacred history within the geography where the events took place, as if they had found the Church’s Garden of Eden. Events like the First Vision, the restoration of the priesthood, and the establishment of the Church are vital theological doctrines and their sites are historically affirming markers of God’s plan or sacred history. Like the telling of the Creation in scriptures and Mormon temple rites, modern Mormon culture is filled with the same kind of pageantry at the historic sites where actors who represent Joseph Smith as he retrieved the gold plates from the Hill Cumorah in New York re-create the story. These sites are not a doorway to salvation in Mormon theology like Church ordinances are, but they bind the modern membership to God’s plan and offer meaning to seemingly arbitrary historic places.
Since the Church’s foundation, Church historic sites have been valued in the minds of the membership. However, reconstructing the buildings, landscapes, and other site elements where the Restoration occurred has only become a reality in the last seventy years, and the LDS membership have only begun visiting them frequently within the last thirty years. With the advent of modern air travel and an expanding worldwide demographic, the LDS Church has restored several Restoration sites and employed a whole division within their Church History Department that includes an architectural historian, a few Church Historians, an anthropologist, an archaeologist, and other professional staff to design, build, and re-create important places from the Church’s past. These sites represent places that are deeply meaningful to the identity of the membership of the Church. The time and effort spent building and maintaining the sites make them focal points of LDS theology, doctrine, and curriculum. As the membership teaches the sacred history and Restoration of the gospel, the sites become more meaningful and personally relevant to believers.
The specificity of the site or geography of the event is inseparably connected to the legitimacy and sacredness of the space. As members make pilgrimages with their families to these sacred sites, they are guided by an army of missionaries who reveal the sacred past in testimony and historical dialogue provided by the historic sites division. Their purpose is to build a deeper understanding of, and foster faith in, the Restoration. The Restoration narrative shared at the sites specifically focuses on how that site fits within God’s plan. Sites in Illinois, Ohio, and New York have become mainstays for Mormon pilgrimages. Even though the Church did not build some of the sites from the original buildings or even on the same spot as the originals, there is an increasing desire to stand in the same “airspace” and recite the history that took place there. Like the Church’s meetinghouses and temples, these spaces require strict adherence to an unwritten law of conduct, and the quiet contemplations by individuals at each site remind each visitor that the sites do not represent a typical heritage crusade; instead, they mark an extremely relevant place in God’s plan. Most of all, they affirm Joseph Smith’s Restoration of the gospel and the initiation of the dispensation of the fulness of times.
Tens of thousands of Latter-day Saints, for example, flood a large grove of trees near Palmyra, New York, where Smith declared that he saw God the Father and Jesus Christ. They wander around a winding dirt path, never quite pinpointing the spot, but upholding an important sacred space universally valued by faithful Saints. Though they speak of these places at home, visiting them fosters faith in the minds of Latter-day Saints. Individual believers and the community of Mormons as a whole identify and pinpoint these historical markers as if they are revisiting the historical events. The sacred history that they reconstruct gives meaning to their beliefs and assures them they are actors within God’s plan. In this sense, cabins, pastures, and groves are declared sacred in a world that is reluctant to make a “Sacred Grove” a reality.
Sacred Grove, Manchester, New York. Site of the First Vision of God the Father and Jesus Christ to Joseph Smith in the spring of 1820. Photograph by Ray L. Huntington.
In many ways, these pilgrimages to LDS historical sites are journeys in search of personal significance and community. They are a way to identify and ratify an individual’s place within God’s eternal plan, while also exemplifying the exclusivity of the LDS Church as God’s Church. Most arrive as Mormon tourists, tangled in the unknown process of religious pilgrimage, seeking for religious experience, and hoping to capture a deeper understanding of where and how the LDS Church was established. This also binds the individual to the community of believers as members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, as minivans and tour buses flood the sites with people whose only connection with each other is their convictions of Mormonism. Mormon parents vacation with their children, prodding them to find meaning in the history and a connection with God—often departing with a trinket or souvenir that represents the trip. In particular, they seek after the place where Joseph Smith founded the LDS Church, since it marks the Restoration of Christ’s Church in the last days before Christ’s return. These visitors clearly do not uphold the same sense of pilgrimage as a Muslim visiting Mecca, but their journeys of faith have emblazoned each site as sacred space within Mormonism, and their vacations are difficult to demarcate from the journeys of other religious pilgrimages to their sacred sites.
A pilgrimage to the site where the Church was established is unique in comparison to many other Christian sites. In many religious pilgrimages, the participants follow a long tradition sometimes formed over thousands of years. Helena, the mother of Constantine the Great, originated the pilgrimage to Palestine and presumably retrieved pieces of Jesus’ cross. Christians formed other pilgrimages in medieval Europe commemorating the lives of Jesus’ Apostles that still thrive today. Each of the pilgrimages is ripe with religious tradition that believers have handed down for centuries. Twenty stories written by Geoffrey Chaucer in the Canterbury Tales, for example, emphasize the significance of tradition behind Christian pilgrimages. In fact, tradition and nostalgia represent a significant part of the purpose and meaning behind pilgrimages. Yet, until recently, Latter-day Saints have not built a tradition of visiting and commemorating the establishment of the Church. The LDS Church also has never made an official call for pilgrimages, unlike the Catholics, who are a people of pilgrimage, encouraged to visit the Holy Land and St. Peter’s Square in Rome, for example.
Mormon pilgrimages found their roots in the early to mid-twentieth century, in the soil of the Saints’ propensity for drama. After years of local “road shows” performed in local congregations around the United States, the Church purchased the Hill Cumorah in 1928 and began a pageant in 1937 about the Book of Mormon. This focused the Church’s recent land purchases on the Hill Cumorah and within a decade there were over one-hundred thousand visitors to the small town of Palmyra, New York. Pilgrims have continued to visit the pageant, “the country’s largest and oldest outdoor drama.” Though nostalgia set pilgrimage in motion at these sites, the Mecca of Mormonism remained in the shadow of these more prominent destinations.
Hill Cumorah Pageant, New York, 13 July 2000. Photographs taken by Ray Huntington.
Purchased two years before the Hill Cumorah, the Whitmer farm—where the Church was established—remained a less visited destination. Its significance was only celebrated from afar since visitors were rare and it never established its own pageant like the Hill Cumorah. For example, the LDS Church celebrated its hundred-year anniversary on 6 April 1930 in Salt Lake City—not in Fayette, New York. Without any festivities at the site, they celebrated their history from afar. Richard O. Cowan argues that the release of B. H. Roberts’s Compressive History of the Church and Joseph Fielding Smith’s and Andrew Jenson’s historical works during the centennial “reinforced the Latter-day Saints’ interest in Church history.” Yet the Church celebrated from the comforts of the tabernacle and other buildings, instead of gathering in the fields and at the site of Peter Whitmer’s previous farmhouse. The occasional visitors to Fayette rarely found a welcoming committee upon their arrival, and it was not until 1980 that the Church built a significant structure for tours and a place for worship services.
Once the Mormons left New York in 1831, Fayette was only a memory, and it certainly was not perceived as a sacred place until the recent past—it was not originally marked by nostalgia nor described in theological terms before it was dedicated in 1970 as a historic site (the chapel and log house would be dedicated in 1980). This obscurity is demonstrated by its slow trickle of visitors before 1970 and the brief references dedicated to its significance in Church histories up until historians began looking more carefully at the history of Fayette and the establishment of the LDS Church. Unlike Independence, Missouri, which in Mormon theology is the site of the Garden of Eden and the Second Coming of Christ, Fayette was not innately or initially endowed with theological significance.
The place where a religion is established often becomes an important part of the religion’s identity, like Geneva to Protestantism or Mecca to Islam. The origin of the religion is seen as the first manifestation of its significance, and as such, the place and event of the establishment represent the value and importance of the religion itself. The truthfulness of religion is often held within its origins. Therefore, understanding the establishment, in some sense, validates faith, and visiting the place offers believers a tangible experience that makes the truth claims extremely real and perceptible. Once a sense of sacred space is established, pilgrimages may be organized, and the idea of a founding place draws believers to the locations.
Problematically for Mormonism, (in the decade leading up to 1980) some historians questioned whether Smith founded the Church of Jesus Christ in Fayette. These disputed claims were driven primarily by the careful research of a few nonbelievers. Though the debate never entered the public discourse of average Latter-day Saints, the research—uncovered by careful archival work—challenged the Church’s claim that its establishment took place in Fayette. This threat of arbitrariness eventually shaped the city’s value around place and its position within God’s sacred history as the Restoration spot.
Site of Peter Whitmer’s Home, Fayette, New York. Photograph by George Edward Anderson, 1920, Harold B. Lee Library.
For Latter-day Saints, the actual place of the Restoration was originally overshadowed by the foregrounding of the date of the establishment. The date was emphasized partially because it was taught that Jesus Christ was also born on that date, bolstering its significance. Members of the Church have only developed their deep resounding interest in the founding location in the recent past, though they have commemorated the day the Church was established since the beginning by holding general conferences on or around 6 April of each year.
Records show that Latter-day Saints occasionally made the trek back to New York after 1830 to visit the site where the Church was established; yet it was not until 1980, when the Church dedicated a cabin representing its founding location, that individual members and families began to visit more regularly. On 6 April 1980, President Spencer W. Kimball dedicated the cabin as the spot where Joseph Smith established The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Aided by readily accessible travel, Fayette, New York, has become a popular vacation spot for Mormons. Once the Church built the cabin, it became a missionary tool to share the Restoration story and origin of the Church. It became a priority to the Church, both as a very specific place where the Church was established and as a symbol of its origins and truthfulness.
President Spencer W. Kimball and Sister Camilla Kimball at the dedication of the Whitmer home. Reprinted from Larry C. Porter, “The Whitmer Log Home: Cradle of Mormonism,” in Religious Educator 12, no. 3 (2011): 177–201.
Though the site has become deeply important to modern Latter-day Saints, the location has not always been emphasized so strongly. In the 1830s, for example, nearly all of the early printed sources produced by the Church or its members stated or implied that the Church was organized in Manchester, New York, instead of Fayette, and most minutes recorded at the April Church conferences do not mention where the Church was founded. (This point will be discussed in detail later.) This anomaly, as most Latter-day Saints would see it, was first publicly explored in depth in 1987 by Michael Marquardt, an independent researcher, whom most Mormon historians at the time considered to be an antagonist of the Church. At a Sunstone Symposium in August of that year, Marquardt presented evidence and argument that the Church was founded in Manchester, New York, in Hyrum Smith’s log house. He persuasively collated early accounts from Manchester residents who attended the baptisms of some of the first members, apparently on the day the Church was organized, along with accounts from early believers. Shortly after Marquardt’s presentation, reassertions of the traditional position that the Church was founded in Fayette, New York, appeared in multiple venues. Elder John K. Carmack, executive director of the Church Historical Department at the time, addressed the issue of the location in an article in a 1989 issue of the Ensign, one of the Church’s official magazines. An article also appeared in the Friend, the Church’s official magazine for children, about the foundation of the Church in Fayette. Even more definitively, Howard W. Hunter, President of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, stated unequivocally in the April 1991 general conference that the Church had been founded in Fayette, New York. President Hunter’s address was subsequently published in the Ensign.
Three years later, Signature Books published Inventing Mormonism, a well-researched book by H. Michael Marquardt and Wesley Walters, about Joseph Smith and the origins of Mormonism, which presented and extended Marquardt’s argument that the Church was organized in Manchester. Marquardt and Walters wrote, “Traditional accounts locate this meeting at the home of Peter Whitmer in Fayette, New York. No minutes of the meeting have survived, but the earliest accounts and supporting evidence suggest the event occurred not at Fayette but in the Smiths’ log home in Manchester.” Their historical claims were, no doubt, a threat to the place and history of the Church. It certainly challenged the location of the Whitmer farm as the birthplace of the Restoration.
Marquardt and Walters’s research challenged traditional Latter-day Saint history through document-driven analysis, requiring historians to take a closer look at the extant sources. Though unconvinced by Marquardt’s overarching conclusions, Mormon historians did not entirely dismiss Marquardt’s research out of hand. For example, Professor Paul H. Peterson of the Department of Church History and Doctrine at Brigham Young University wrote in his review of Marquardt’s book, “Regardless of what agenda motivated this volume, it merits a careful reading by students of Latter-day Saint history.” In particular, he conceded that “there is fair evidence for a Manchester location.” Even decades after the book was published, it continues to be influential. Recently, Dr. Mark Scherer, World Historian of the Community of Christ, declared that Smith established the Church in Manchester, New York, based primarily upon the evidence Marquardt and Walters presented in their 1994 book. Scherer wrote, “Published statements, historical circumstances, and personal remembrances strongly suggest that the Church of Christ was officially organized on 6 April 1830 in the Smith log cabin in Manchester Township, Ontario County, and not in Fayette, Seneca County.”
With this research in mind, it should be asked how this change in location might affect the origin and truth claims of Mormonism. Marquardt argues that the shift in location exposes a series of lies told by Smith and the leadership of the Church. After members were attacked and driven from Jackson County, Missouri, in the fall of 1833, it left the deeply indebted mercantile arm of the Church without land, industry, or assets to pay for debts. Marquardt claims that in May 1834 the United Firm, which controlled the Church’s financial endeavors, changed the name of the Church and the place where it was established to deceptively avoid paying for their debts. If this were true, it would undermine the Church’s claim to truth and disrupt its divinely guided origin.
The following chapters revisit and reinterpret the relevant source material. While several early Mormons believed that the Church was organized in Manchester, as Marquardt has argued, Joseph Smith and Oliver Cowdery, first and second elders at the time of organization, consistently wrote in private records that it was founded in Fayette. This research will also explore an early revelation (now Doctrine and Covenants 21) as recorded in the recently available early revelation book, which Smith dictated on 6 April 1830 at the founding meeting. Its text, recorded the day the Church was organized, not only clearly designates Fayette, but the editorial changes and insertions may offer an explanation for why there were printed accounts in the 1830s that claimed the Church was organized in Manchester. The following research will also analyze the organizational meeting in light of this newly discovered manuscript and reassess the known of about the meeting to demonstrate what we can know about the location where The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints was originally established.
Focusing strictly on the house of Peter Whitmer Sr., this book sorts through the foggy historical record and complicated historiography about where the Church was established. My research draws from and builds upon my work done for The Joseph Smith Papers, especially Documents: Volume 1. This book is an expansion of that work and my historical research on the organization of the Church on 6 April 1830 for the Papers. The intention of the book is to be as academically rigorous as possible in order to understand the importance of the ecclesiastical history in Fayette, New York. In particular, I hope to address historical claims that the Church was not established in Fayette by taking a close look at what the existing documents tell us—thus connecting the sacred space with both time and geography. I hope it will be the next piece of the puzzle for this founding narrative. Though Fayette is sacred to the membership beyond this academic analysis, this book hopes to draw out the significance of this place in the sacred history of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. It will demonstrate that sacred space can be identified through the process of uncovering history, defended by the documents, and can be sustained through the Saints’ nostalgia for history and geography.
This is just one example in which an investment into history can potentially establish sacred space by creating religious narratives founded upon rigorous research and careful examination of historical records. History can establish a sacred narrative that defines sacred space in both time and place. Historical dialogue in itself fosters interest, examination, and reassessment, all of which have created the environment where Fayette transformed from a place with only historical significance into a space that marks the birthplace of the Restoration and a destination of faith for believers.
 See Boyd K. Packer, The Holy Temple (Salt Lake City: Bookcraft, 1980); Hugh Nibley, Temple and Cosmos: Beyond This Ignorant Present (Salt Lake City: Deseret Book, 1992).
 See Victor Turner, The Ritual Process: Structure and Anti-Structure (Chicago: Aldine Publishing, 1969), 94–106.
 See Mircea Eliade, The Sacred and The Profane: The Nature of Religion (New York: Harcourt Brace Jovanovich, 1983); Rudolf Otto, The Idea of the Holy: An Inquiry into the Non-Rational Factor in the Idea of the Divine and Its Relation to the Rational, 2nd ed., trans. John W. Harvey (Oxford University Press, 1950).
 For an introduction to ritual practice and ritual theory, see Catherine Bell, “Action and Practice,” chapter 4 in Ritual Theory, Ritual Theory (Oxford University Press, 1992). See also Mircea Eliade, The Myth of the Eternal Return: Cosmos and History (Bollingen: Princeton University Press, 2005, originally published in 1954). In Myths, Dreams and Mysteries: The Encounter between Contemporary Faiths and Archaic Realities, Eliade argues that origins of the sacred are paramount to understanding sacredness. This is relevant to this book because of the idea that nostalgia for stories or narratives about origins form sacred space. This book is simply about the formation of an origin story that developed through the narratives that historians created about the establishment of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
 See Samuel L. Brown, In Heaven as It Is on Earth: Joseph Smith and the Early Mormon Conquest of Death (Oxford University Press, 2012), Part Two. “Smith’s sacerdotal genealogy brought the universe’s powers to bear in defense of extended human associations, even as they gave the universe a decidedly familial face. In the words of Parley Pratt, ‘the celestial [family] order is an order of eternal life; it knows no death.’” Brown, In Heaven as It Is on Earth, 247.
 See Eliade, “The Terror of History,” chapter 4 in Cosmos and History; Turner, The Ritual Process, 94–106.
 See Terryl L. Givens, Wrestling the Angel: The Foundations of Mormon Thought: Cosmos, God, Humanity (London, Oxford University Press, 2014), 23–41.
 See Ephesians 1:10; D&C 128:18.
 See 2 Nephi 3 and 27; 3 Nephi 21; Ether 3 and 4.
 2 Nephi 3:11.
 D&C 135:3.
 Bruce R. McConkie wrote that in “the temple we receive the clearest understanding of what took place and how it was accomplished.” Bruce R. McConkie, Mormon Doctrine, 2nd ed. (Salt Lake City: Deseret Book, 1966), 169–70. See also James Talmage, The House of the Lord (Salt Lake City: The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, 2013), 82–88. See also D&C 99:33; Abraham 3:22–24; Moses 1:27–40; Exodus 20:8–11.
 The Church lists the official pageants on LDS.org.
 The phrase “heritage crusade” is taken from David Lowenthal’s book The Heritage Crusade and the Spoils of History, which analyzes the crusade-like obsession groups foster for tradition and cultural capital. At one point, the embrace of heritage provokes an interest that defines nationality and ethnic identity, while it may also potentially contributes to holy war. In a Mormon sense, a heritage crusade may refer to a search for and embrace of all things Mormon that positively represent them. This may include gathering all the most positive aspects of Mormon culture and emphasizing its most positive effects over time to an extent that the past is mythologized. David Lowenthal, The Heritage Crusade and the Spoils of History (Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, 1998).
 See Ephesians 1:10; D&C 27:7–13; 128:18. Robert J. Matthews, “The Fullness of Times,” Ensign, December 1989, 46–51.
 See S. N. C. Lieu, “From History to Legend and Legend to History: The Medieval and Byzantine Transformation of Constantine’s Vita,” in Constantine: History, Historiography and Legend, ed. S. N. C. Lieu and D. Montserrat (London/
 See David J. Howlett, Kirtland Temple: The Biography of a Shared Mormon Sacred Space (Champaign: University of Illinois Press, 2014).
 See Victor Turner and Edith Turner, Image and Pilgrimage in Christian Culture: Anthropological Perspectives (New York: Columbia University Press, 1978), 232; J. Sumption, Pilgrimage: An Image of Mediaeval Religion (London: Faber and Faber, 1975), 93; Mary Lee Nolan and Sidney Nolan, Christian Pilgrimage in Modern Western Europe (Chapel Hill, NC: University of North Carolina Press, 1989).
 See Joseph J. Cannon, “The Little Theater Movement of the Church,” Improvement Era, October 1943; Peggy Fletcher Stack, “Mormon Roadshows Sent Packing,” Salt Lake Tribune, 31 July 1999, L2.
 Richard Cowan wrote, “Beginning in 1937, the annual Hill Cumorah Pageant became one of the Church’s most successful public relations ventures. Featuring a cast composed mostly of missionaries serving in the area, ‘America’s Witness for Christ’ was presented on three large stages constructed on the slopes of the hill.” Richard O. Cowan, The Church in the Twentieth Century (Salt Lake City: Bookcraft, 1985), 167–68.
 Terryl L. Givens, People of Paradox (New York: Oxford University Press, 2007), 268.
 Cowan, The Church in the Twentieth Century, 103–4.
 In June 1970 the LDS Church announced “THE MARVELOUS WORK THAT WENT FORTH FROM A FARM,” promoting the “Dedication of the Peter Whitmer Farm and Visitors Center at Fayette, New York, on June 29, 1970, as a shrine to nearly three million Mormons throughout the world, adds another historic site which The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints maintains to preserve its rich and colorful history.” The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints Information Service, News!, 22 June 1980, L. Tom Perry Special Collections, Brigham Young University, Provo, UT.
 See D&C 57:1–3; 107:53. See also Joseph Smith, Journal, 11 Jan. 1834; 4–6 Mar. 1834; 19 May 1838; in Dean C. Jessee, Mark Ashurst-McGee, and Richard L. Jensen, eds., journals, volume 1: 1832–1839. Vol. 1 of the Journals series of The Joseph Smith Papers, edited by Dean C. Jessee, Ronald K. Esplin, and Richard Lyman Bushman (Salt Lake City: Church Historian’s Press, 2008). 25, 35, 270 (hereafter JSP, J1).
 See John Franklin Hall, “6 April,” in Encyclopedia of Mormonism, ed. Daniel H. Ludlow (New York: Macmillan, 1992), 61; Lincoln H. Blumell and Thomas A. Wayment, “When Was Jesus Born? A Response to a Recent Proposal,” BYU Studies 51, no. 3 (2012): 53–81.
 See D&C 44; Jay R. Lowe, “A Study of the General Conferences of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, 1830–1901” (PhD diss., Brigham Young University, 1972). Joseph Smith dictated the revelation that is currently called D&C 21 at the meeting where the Church was organized. The original name of the Church was the Church of Christ.
 Marquardt is an independent researcher, specializing in Mormon origins and doctrine.
 See presentation by H. Michael Marquardt, “Hyrum Smith and the Organization of the Mormon Church,” 9th Annual Sunstone Theological Symposium, Salt Lake City, Utah, 28 August 1987. The paper he wrote for the symposium was later revised and published as “An Appraisal of Manchester as Location for the Organization of the Church,” Sunstone 16, no. 1 (February 1992): 49–57. For manuscript sources that he used to identify the baptisms, see Karen Lynn Davidson, David J. Whittaker, Mark Ashurst-McGee, and Richard L. Jensen, eds., Histories, Volume 1: Joseph Smith Histories, 1832–1844, vol. 1 of the Histories series of The Joseph Smith Papers, 378 (hereafter JSP, H1); Joseph Smith, History, Mulholland draft, 1839, 9–10, in JSP, H1:364–80; Joseph Smith, History, Vol. A-1, 37–38; Lucy Mack Smith, History, 1844–45, book 8, 4; Dean C. Jessee, “Joseph Knight’s Recollection of Early Mormon History,” BYU Studies 17, no. 1 (1976): 37; Interview of Benjamin Saunders, 1884, in Kelley Collection, “Misc 1795–1948,” 27, Community of Christ Library-Archives; Arthur B. Deming, Naked Truths about Mormonism (Oakland, CA: 1888), 3; Shortsville Enterprise, 18 March 1904.
 See John K. Carmack, “Fayette: The Place the Church Was Organized,” Ensign, February 1989, 15–19; John K. Carmack, “Fayette: The Place the Church was Organized,” in Sperry Symposium Classics: The Doctrine and Covenants, ed. Craig K. Manscill (Provo, UT: Religious Studies Center; Salt Lake City: Deseret Book, 2004), 48–55. Elder Carmack wrote that “it is clear that the Prophet Joseph Smith felt that the event was highly significant, that he and his brethren were complying with directives given by the Lord. . . . At the time, however, some members did not fully appreciate the significance of the occasion.” He acknowledged early published sources mentioning Manchester, but concluded that “all official sources, including the History of the Church and nearly every author writing in the last century or more, designate Fayette as the location of the first meeting.”
 Vivian Paulsen addressed the youth of the Church and assured them that the establishment meeting took place in Fayette. Paulsen attempted to make the location a reality to her readers by including photographs of the Whitmer farm, stating, “Around it the fertile fields of Fayette, New York, were greening. Nearby trees were awakening to spring, shading the fresh, new blossoms struggling to lift their heads to the sun. Parked around the cabin were the horses, buggies, and wagons that had carried the many men and women who were gathered there on the Tuesday morning. It was April 6, 1830, the day chosen by the Lord for the official organization of His church in the last days.” Vivian Paulsen, “A Day Chosen by the Lord,” Friend, August 1989, 40–41.
 President Howard W. Hunter addressed the issue in a general conference of the Church. “The Sixth Day of April, 1830,” Ensign, May 1991, 63–65. President Hunter explained that the Church was founded 161 years before his general conference talk. The Ensign published that he stated, “Of such ordinary, honest people was the group composed who assembled in Peter Whitmer’s house in Fayette, Seneca County, New York, more than a century and a half ago.”
 See H. Michael Marquardt and Wesley P. Walters, Inventing Mormonism: Tradition and the Historical Record (Salt Lake City: Signature Books, 1994).
 Paul Peterson wrote, “The accompanying notes and appendixes are useful, and the bibliographical essay is especially helpful. It is apparent the authors have paid their research dues, having painstakingly combed through sundry archives, searching for obscure tax and assessment records and censuses to supplement the often familiar statement by contemporaries who remembered the Joseph Smith family.” Paul Peterson, “Book Review: Inventing Mormonism: Tradition and the Historical Record,” BYU Studies 35, no. 4 (1995–96): 209. Richard Bushman also reviewed the book and wrote that “Marquardt and Walters have searched the archives for thirty years looking for documents related to Joseph Smith’s story of his evolution from farm boy to prophet. In that time, they have dug up a lot of material, not elaborate new reminiscences, but tiny fragments, like Joseph Smith, Sr.’s, name on the a Palmyra road tax list.” Richard Bushman, “Just the Facts Please,” Review of Books on the Book of Mormon 6, no. 2 (1994):123.
 Peterson, “Book Review,” 209, 216.
 Mark A. Scherer, The Journey of a People: The Era of Restoration, 1820 to 1844 (Independence, MO: Community of Christ Seminary Press, 2013), 124.
 See argument and footnoted documents below.
 See Robin Scott Jensen, “From Manuscript to Printed Page: An Analysis of the History of the Book of Commandments and Revelations,” BYU Studies 48, no. 3 (2009): 19–52; Grant Underwood, “Revelation, Text, and Revision: Insight from the Book of Commandments and Revelations,” BYU Studies 48, no. 3 (2009): 67–84; Steven C. Harper, “The Making of Modern Scripture: Latter-day Saints and the Book of Commandments and Revelations,” Mormon Historical Studies 10, no. 2 (Fall 2009): 31–39; Ronald E. Romig, “Response to the Book of Commandments and Revelations Presentations,” BYU Studies 48, no. 3 (2009): 85–91.