Palmyra New York, LDS Church History Site

Palmyra New York, LDS Church History Site

SHARE
, / 2373 0

Destination: Palmyra, New York
Date: May 2009

Our little family just outside one of the Smith farm buildings
Palmyra New York May 2009

May of 2009 found us with an extra child. My niece “J” was living with us at the time and we wanted to have a spiritual trip to bring us all closer as a family.  So after talking about places we could go, we finally decided a quick four day trip to Palmyra New York, a church history site for our church, would be a great place to visit.

Trent and I inside the Sacred Grove
Palmyra, New York May 2009

Palmyra is where our church, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints was founded back in the 1820s.  As we believe Joseph Smith, then a 14-year-old boy, was searching for a church to join.  After visiting to several congregations he didn’t feel right about any of the churches.  Then one night as he read in the Bible James 1:5
 5 If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God, that giveth to all men liberally, and upbraideth not; and it shall be given him.
So that is exactly what Joseph decided to do.  He decided to find a quiet spot, outside of his packed little farm house he lived with his family, and go into the woods and pray to Heavenly Father about which church he should join.

Clay pretending to be in Josephs bed at the Smith Family Farm house
Palmyra, New York May 2009

It was here, in Palmyra New York where Joseph lived at the time.  Near Josephs home there is a grove of trees which we now in the church call the “Sacred Grove”.  It is here where Joseph Smith went to pray as a humble young man full of faith.  We believe that Joseph prayed and was visited by Heavenly Father and His son Jesus Christ.  At that time he was told to not join any of the churches and was instructed on how to fully restore the gospel of Jesus Christ back to the earth.  This was the beginning of the restoration of Christ’s church on the earth and the beginning of our church, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

Leah reading in the Smith family Bible
Palmyra New York May 2009

So going to Palmyra was a treat for our family.  It was interesting to visit the farmhouse of the Smith family, visit the original building where the first Book of Mormon was printed and of course to be in the Sacred Grove.  For any of you who aren’t familiar with our church we revere Joseph Smith as a prophet of God, but we do not worship him.  So visiting his home was just out of interest of a historical purpose like visiting the homes of our countries forefathers. Visiting the Sacred Grove however, was a very spiritual experience because we do believe that this is where Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ appeared.

With the kids just before we entered the Sacred Grove
Palmyra New York May 2009
In the Sacred Grove with the kids enjoying this beautiful site
Palmyra New York, May 2009

When we approached the Sacred Grove all six of the kids were being a little bit crazy.  Excitedly running around, some of them annoying each other with hits or kicks, and I was a little frazzled thinking we were about to enter this sacred site with five of my hooligans and my teenaged niece.  Trent and I tried talking to them and hoped they could feel the spirit of where we were going.  It didn’t seem to help and I was ready to leave them behind and just go in with only Trent.  However there is a little bridge just before the entrance to the Sacred Grove and just as we crossed over the bridge it was like my kids became their best selves.  It was a little family miracle.

Taking a break on one of the benches on the Smith Farm property
Palmyra New York May 2009

As we entered the grove each child quickly became quiet and respectful.  They weren’t angels but they were cheerful and stopped being annoying one another.  It was amazing, at least for me!  We walked the trails in the grove and watched the light of the sun as it came cascading through the trees.  We stopped and listened to the rustling of the leaves and watched them flitter with the light.  It was a holy place and we could actually feel the significance of Joseph Smiths first vision so long ago.  We took a moment to say a family prayer and have our own personal moments of silence.

We alway need help carrying the littles as we travel
Palmyra New York, May 2009

Just like in the Bible we believe that the Lord has provided us a prophet on the earth today.  Joseph Smith was the first prophet of the restoration of the gospel.  He worked as a servant of the Lord setting up the church as it was in Christ’s time.  He didn’t receive fame or fortune and actually lost many family members from mobs that hunted him all of his life, and in the end died in a prison in Carthage Illinois.  However, he was a true prophet of God.  If you’d like to find out more about our church I highly recommend going to lds.org

Loving all the family time at these church history sites
Palmyra New York May 2009

While in Palmyra there are many sites to see.  The best place to start your visit is the Hill Cumorah visitors center.  Here is where you can receive a free tour with much explanation of what went on in the area.  The Hill Cumorah being of course, where Joseph Smith uncovered the brass plates that held the writings of the Book of Mormon.  Near this location is also the Palmyra Temple.  This beautiful temple is not open to visitors that aren’t in good standing with the LDS church but for visitors and members alike its a great place to take pictures.

In front of the Palmyra Temple
Palmyra New York, May 2009

Also during the month of July they have a huge pageant that is free of charge.  As stated on the website, www.hillcumorah.org, “Come feel the Savior’s love.  Experience one of the world’s great outdoor theatrical productions. Each July, seven evening performances are presented on the beautiful Cumorah hillside next to the Visitors’ Center. A beautiful story on an enormous 10 level stage, twelve-tower lighting, state-of-the-art sound system, Hollywood special effects, and a costumed cast of over 650 provide a truly spectacular show.  Parking and admission are free. No tickets needed.”  This is definitely a great performance for anyone of any faith.

Bailey in the Smith Family Farm house by the hearth where Joseph Smith hid the
brass plates from an invading mob at one time.
Palmyra New York May 2009
Inside the small reconstructed farm house
Palmyra New York, May 2009

As I mentioned before the Smith Family Farm is interesting to see.  Though it has been reconstructed it give an accurate reconstruction of how a family as large as the Smiths lived in this tiny cabin.  The Book of Mormon Publication site, the Grandin Building gives an interesting glimpse of what printing was like in the 1820’s. Last of all The Peter Whitmer Log Home and the Martin Harris farm are also in the area and worth a look during your visit.  The Peter Whitmer Log Home is located over in Waterloo and is a thirty-five minute drive from Palmyra. There Peter Whitmer’s home is where the church was finally organized on April 6, 1830 and worth a drive to see its humble beginnings.

In front of the Grandin Building where the first Book of Mormon was printed
Palmyra New York, May 2009

The Martin Harris Farm is located near the Smith farm.  Martin Harris was a good neighbor who helped immensely  with the church in the early days.  He was known as “an honorable and upright man, and an obliging and benevolent neighbor.”  Most of these sites open daily at 9:00am and close at dusk.  They are all  hosted by missionaries who give great tours of each of these sites for free.

While visiting Palmyra there are very little in choice of accommodations.  The Palmyra Inn is probably the most popular and looks pretty nice from the website.  While we were there we found a house on vrbo.com.  We decided to find a house mostly due to our group of eight.  It was a great house and I really recommend finding accommodations on this site.  Eating in the area is also very sparse when it comes to choice.  The best choice is the Chill and Grill.  They have a modest selection of hamburgers and hotdogs and the largest ice creams around.  I actually think someone could make a good living by opening a summer only restaurant in the area.  Thankfully the Chill and Grill is there, and gives visitors one good place to eat.

Bailey enjoying the wide open spaces on the Smith Family Farm
Palmyra New York, May 2009

All in all, Palmyra is a great site to visit.  We stayed in the area for two days and moved on to Niagra Falls for another great adventure.  Two days is plenty of time to spend in the area.  There isn’t much else to do in this part of New York so make sure to plan another part of your adventure if you are going to visit Palmyra..

Safe and Happy Travels!!