Hiram, Ohio
by 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, Lucretia Rudolph.

John 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 Twelve.


SIGNIFICANT EVENTS

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 D&C 76.
  • 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 1:261-265).


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.


MANTUA

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.

AMISH COMMUNITY

Nearby Middlefield, 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.

ACITIVITES/SHOPPING

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.

* Aurora Outlet Shopping Mall – Store selections include Nautica, Tommy Hilfiger, Gap, Brooks Brothers, etc.


 

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