On the Trail

Harmony and the Susquehanna

By Jan Pinborough

Church Magazines

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Come along to explore an important place in Church history!

On a chilly May morning, Joshua and Emily G. visited a place called Harmony, Pennsylvania, where some very special things happened almost 184 years ago.

Joseph and Emma Smith moved here to be closer to Emma’s parents and to escape people who wanted to steal the gold plates. They lived in a small house near Emma’s parents.

Inside that small house, Joseph worked on translating the gold plates while Oliver Cowdery wrote down his words. When Joseph and Oliver read about Jesus Christ telling the Nephites about baptism, they wanted to have the authority to baptize. On May 15, 1829, they went outside to pray about it.

As Joseph and Oliver knelt in the maple woods near Emma’s parents’ home, they had a sacred experience. First they heard the voice of Jesus Christ. Then John the Baptist appeared. He put his hands on their heads and gave them the Aaronic Priesthood and the authority to baptize. Now the priesthood was back on the earth!

Next John told them how to baptize each other. The two men walked down to the nearby Susquehanna River. First Joseph baptized Oliver, and then Oliver baptized Joseph. Now baptism with proper priesthood authority was on the earth once more.

This sacred experience was an important part of the Restoration of the Church.

Harmony pictures

The Restoration is when Jesus Christ’s original Church was brought back to earth.

The river where Joseph Smith and Oliver Cowdery were baptized was very cold on the day Emily and Joshua visited!

Emily and Joshua look at the gravestone of Joseph and Emma’s first child, Alvin, who died at birth.

Emma Smith’s parents’ home once stood here. Nearby was the house where Joseph translated much of the Book of Mormon—and where he received 15 sections of the Doctrine and Covenants.

This monument tells visitors about how the Aaronic Priesthood was restored.

Photographs by Brent Walton