Children in Early Kirtland

Print Share

    I have consecrated the land of Kirtland … for the benefit of the saints (D&C 82:13).

    The incidents described here are about things that really happened in Kirtland, Ohio, in the first few years after the Church was organized. Sometimes we know the names of the people; sometimes we don’t. But we know that the anecdotes are true, because they were recorded in people’s journals and other accounts. Most of what you read here is adapted from a book called Joseph Smith’s Kirtland: Eyewitness Accounts by Karl Ricks Anderson.

    Isaac Morley and his family joined the Church just thirteen days before Cordelia, his next-to-the-youngest daughter, was seven years old. In her journal, she tells about a time when her older sister Philena asked Joseph Smith to help her carry a large trunk to another room. The Prophet, always happy to help people, quickly went to move it, saying, “Yes I will, with all my heart and part of my muscles.”

    Mary Elizabeth Rollins was just a young teenager when she went to a missionary meeting at the Isaac Morley farm. Isaac Morley had the only copy of the Book of Mormon in that area at the time, and Mary Elizabeth pleaded with him to let her take it home to read. She pleaded so earnestly that he let her take it, but only if she would return it before breakfast the next morning.

    As soon as she got home, she and her uncle took turns reading the Book of Mormon until late that night. At dawn she got up and memorized the first verse before taking the book back to Brother Morley. When she gave it to him, he was surprised to see how much of it she and her uncle had read. And when she recited the first verse and the outline of Nephi’s history, to her delight he told her to take the book back with her and finish it. He would gladly wait for it, knowing that she cherished it as he did.

    An anecdote about the Prophet Joseph, dear to the hearts of the Kirtland children who knew it, concerned some baby mice. Workmen leveling a steep hill uncovered a nest of the tiny creatures, and one of the men carried it over to the Prophet, who seemed fascinated by them. He told the workmen that the mice were “pretty little innocent things” and to “take them back and put them where their mother can find them.”

    One time when Joseph Smith was in grave danger and had bodyguards to protect him so that he could get his work done and could rest at night, he stayed in a friend’s log house. That evening he heard a little boy praying in the room next to his. He was pleading with the Lord to protect Joseph from the mob. When the boy’s prayer was over, Joseph turned to his bodyguards and told them all to go to bed and not worry about him, because the boy’s prayer had been heard and answered.

    Not everyone could attend the fast meeting when the Kirtland Temple was dedicated. Some children who were outside the temple when the meeting took place saw angels walking on its roof. It was a bright day, and the angels seemed to appear and disappear as the afternoon wore on. When the people who were at the meeting came home that evening, they weren’t at all surprised to learn that the children had seen the angels, because inside the temple the power of God had been manifested, and there had been prophesying and speaking in tongues. One of the things said in the interpretation of tongues was that “angels were resting down upon the house [temple].”

    Illustrated by Robert T. Barrett