Becky Cardon Smith
Hiram is the site
of the John Johnson farm where Joseph received the vision of the three
degrees of glory.
Hiram Township, with
a population around 2,000, lies about 35 miles southeast of Kirtland.
Located here is Hiram College, established in 1850. U. S. President James
A. Garfield attended this college for three years. Later, he returned
as a professor and also served as president of the college. Here too,
President Garfield fell in love with and later married one of his classmates,
Johnson Home in Hiram, Ohio
Of greater significance
for L.D.S. history, Hiram was also the home of John Johnson. In 1818,
John, his wife Alice (usually referred to as Elsa), and their children
moved from Vermont to Hiram. First living in a log cabin, John became
a prosperous farmer and built a large farm home in 1829. While active
in the Methodist church, John and Elsa went to Kirtland to meet the Prophet
after receiving a Book of Mormon. Elsa had such severe rheumatism that
one arm was almost useless. After the Prophet miraculously healed Elsa’s
arm, she and John joined the Church and became good friends with Joseph,
even inviting him to come and live with them. (Read about this miracle
in HC 1:215-216.)
From September 1831
until September 1832, the farm was not only the home of John Johnson,
his wife, and family, it was also the home of Joseph, Emma, and their
newly adopted twins. John and Elsa rearranged their lives and their home
to accommodate the Prophet and his family. Luke and Lyman, two of the
Johnson’s sons, became two of the original members of the Quorum
of the Twelve Apostles. In addition, one of the Johnson’s daughters,
Marinda, married Orson Hyde, who was another member of the Quorum of the
Many sacred events
occurred while the Prophet was living here: Joseph and Sidney Rigdon worked
on the inspired revision of the Bible, the Prophet received 16 revelations,
Joseph received a vision concerning the three degrees of glory, the publication
of the Book of Commandments was approved in a conference, and the headquarters
of the Church was located here. In contrast to the many spiritual happenings,
a tragic event also took place: Joseph was dragged from this home and
then beaten, tarred, and feathered by a mob. One of the twins, Joseph
Murdock Smith, was sick and died a few days later as a result of exposure
to the cold night air.
- Inspired Revision
of the Bible (initially begun in Fayette) – The Prophet, with
Sidney Rigdon acting as scribe, worked each day on the inspired revision
of the Bible. Rather than instructing Joseph to completely retranslate
the Bible, the Lord had the Prophet “revise the English text of
the Bible under inspiration of God; and that led him not only to give
different renderings of various passages, but also to supply missing
parts” (HC 1:215). Joseph worked on the revisions at the farm
from November 1831 until March 1832.
- Revelations received
here – While staying at the Johnson farm, Joseph received 16 revelations.
They are now recorded as D&C 1, 65, 67– 69, 71, 73, 74, 76–81,
99, and 133. The Lord’s preface to the Book of Commandments (Doctrine
and Covenants) is found in Section 1, while many of the other sections
include instruction concerning the inspired revision of the Bible.
- Joseph received
a vision – On February 16, 1832, after the Prophet had finished
his revision of John 5:29, he recorded, “myself and Elder Rigdon
saw the following vision …” HC 1:245–253. This vision
of the Father and Son and the three degrees of glory is recorded in
Publication of the
Book of Commandments approved – On November 1, 1831, at a two-day
conference held in the Johnson home, publication of the Book of Commandments
was approved (HC 1:221-225). In this same conference, it was also noted
that the preface to the Book of Commandments was “received by
inspiration” (HC 1:222).
- Headquarters for
the Church – The Prophet directed and conducted Church business
here during his stay at the Johnson home. Originally moving into the
home in September 1831, Joseph went to Missouri to visit the Saints
in April, but returned here to live until September 1832.
- Joseph was beaten,
tarred, and feathered – On Saturday evening of March 24, 1832,
a mob of about 50 men attacked the Prophet while he lay sleeping. Joseph
and Emma’s adopted twins, Joseph and Julia, had been sick with
the measles and Joseph had suggested that evening that Emma get some
rest and he would stay up with one of the twins. As the Prophet lay
sleeping on the trundle bed, the mob burst into the room and proceeded
to drag him outside. After deciding not to kill him as originally planned,
the mob scratched and beat the Prophet and then tarred and feathered
him. They even tried to force a vial of poison in his mouth but only
succeeded in breaking a piece of Joseph’s tooth, which left him
with a permanent slight whistle in his speech. Sidney Rigdon was also
taken from his home. Dragged by his heels across the frozen ground,
he suffered a severe head injury which left him delirious for several
days. When Joseph regained his strength and returned to the farm, Emma
saw the tar and thinking it was blood, fainted. For the rest of the
night, friends helped in the painful process of scraping the tar off.
Despite the attack, Joseph arose that next morning (Sunday) and, “with
my flesh all scarified and defaced, I preached to the congregation as
usual, and in the afternoon of the same day baptized three individuals”
(HC 1:264). The Smith’s infant son Joseph, already weakened from
the measles, was exposed to the cold night air and died five days later
on Friday, March 29, 1832. He would have been eleven months old on the
following day. (Read the Prophet’s account of this attack in HC
SITES TO SEE
- John Johnson Farm
House – On October 28, 2001, President Hinckley rededicated this
special site. The home was built in 1829, purchased by the Church in
1956, and then beautifully restored with furnishings from the original
period. While looking at this home, you can almost imagine the Prophet
Joseph Smith as he stood on the front porch each Sunday to give a sermon.
In the main kitchen, notice the original paint inside the warming cupboard
and the original brick fireplace. The original dining room, located
to the right of the front door, was changed into a parlor for Joseph
and Emma when they came here to live. The room just to the left of the
front door was originally a parlor for the Johnson family but became
Joseph and Emma’s bedroom. Notice the colorful floor and the built
in china closet. On March 24, 1832, Joseph was taken from this room
to be beaten, tarred, and feathered. The upstairs room, on the right
side, was originally the bedroom of John and Elsa, but became Joseph’s
study and the headquarters of the Church (and is often referred to as
the Revelation Room). Joseph and Sidney worked here daily on the inspired
revision of the Bible. The Prophet also received many revelations in
this room. While working on John 5:29, Joseph received the revelation
recorded in D&C 76 concerning the three degrees of glory. Before
or after your tour of the John Johnson home, be sure to pick up a handout
concerning the home and the revelations received here. The farm is located
at 6203 Pioneer Trail Road. Open Monday thru Saturday 9:00 a.m.–7:00
p.m. and Sunday 11:30 a.m.–7:00 p.m. Tours end at 5:00 p.m. during
the winter. Admission is free. 330-569-3374.
The birthplace of
Lorenzo Snow is located less than 4 miles from the John Johnson farm in
the town of Mantua.
- Lorenzo Snow’s
Birthplace – This was once the home of Oliver and Rosetta Snow,
parents of seven children including Eliza R. and Lorenzo. The Prophet
Joseph Smith visited this home in the winter/spring of 1831. As Eliza
quietly watched the Prophet warming himself by the fire, she decided,
“His was an honest face” (BYU Studies 11, no. 4: 127). The
home is located at 1118 Mantua Center Road. It is privately owned and
not available for tours. Please be careful if you stop to take a picture.
Mantua Center is a small country road used by many large gravel trucks.
with a current population of over 4,000, is one of the largest Amish settlements
in the United States. Be careful while driving through this scenic countryside
as you may suddenly come upon a slow moving horse-drawn buggy. Suggested
places to stop include Mary Yoder’s Amish Kitchen, Middlefield Swiss
Cheese Factory, and numerous Amish gift stores.
Aurora is located
just a few miles directly west of Hiram on Route 82.
Six Flags Amusement Park – 1060 North Aurora Road, Aurora.
Nelson-Kennedy Ledges State Park – A small state park popular for
hiking, picnicking, and nature sightseeing. Complete with spectacular
rock formations, a beech-maple forest, and diverse plant life. Located
just off Route 282 (near Punderson State Park).
Punderson State Park – Enjoy nature at its finest. Amenities include
RV/camping, lodge w/on-site restaurant, golf course, swimming pool, hiking
trails and lake.
Camp Hi Canoe Livery – Enjoy a 1 to 6 hour canoe or kayak trip on
the Upper Cuyahoga River.
Outlet Shopping Mall – Store selections include Nautica, Tommy Hilfiger,
Gap, Brooks Brothers, etc.
LDS Family Travels. All Rights Reserved.