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Palmyra/Manchester, New York

The Palmyra/Manchester area of New York is significant to the LDS Church because the Joseph Smith, Sr., family settled there in 1816, and the hill Cumorah, from which came the gold plates of the Book of Mormon, is nearby. Many events in early Church history occurred in the vicinity, including Joseph Smith’s first vision, and also the visits of the angel Moroni leading to the translation and publication of the Book of Mormon in Palmyra. A number of persons, including Martin Harris, Oliver Cowdery, and E. B. Grandin, prominent in the early scences of the Church, also lived in the vicinity. Four revelations now published in the Doctrine and Covenants were received in the area (see D&C 2, 19, 22, 23).

The Joseph Smith, Sr., family arrived in the village of Palmyra, New York, in 1816 from their home in Norwich, Vermont. By the fall of 1817 they made a down payment on a 100-acre farm two miles south of the village in the adjoining township of Farmington (which became Manchester in 1822). During the winter of 1817—1818, they began the construction of a log house, which was completed by the fall of 1818 (Enders, p. 16). A 1982 archaeological dig revealed the exact location of the log cabin on the southern edge of Palmyra township (Berge, pp. 24—26).

From 1822 to 1826 the Smiths built a frame house in Manchester; and in January 1827 Joseph and his new bride, Emma Hale Smith, came to that home to work on the farm. Attempts to steal the gold plates required their being concealed both under the hearthstone of the house and in the cooper’s shop.

The Book of Mormon was printed by Egbert B. Grandin in his Palmyra Bookstore, with Martin Harris’s mortgaged farm guaranteeing that the printing costs would be met. With the organization of the Church on April 6, 1830, at Fayette, the Manchester/Palmyra area was identified as one of three branches.

The Church still has interest in the area, maintaining visitors’ centers in the Grandin printing shop and bookstore; at the Smith farm and the Sacred Grove; and also at the hill Cumorah, where an appropriate monument and building have been erected, and where an annual pageant is held. A portion of the Martin Harris farm is also owned by the Church. Members of the Smith family and others prominent in the early history of the Church are buried in the cemeteries of the area.


Berge, Dale L. “Archaeological Work at the Smith Log House.” Ensign 15 (Aug. 1985): 24—26.

Enders, Donald L. “‘A Snug Log House’: A Historical Look at the Joseph Smith, Sr., Family Home in Palmyra, New York.” Ensign 15 (Aug. 1985): 14—23.

Porter, Larry C. “A Study of the Origins of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in the States of New York and Pennsylvania, 1816—1831.” Ph.D. diss., Brigham Young University, 1971.

Larry C. Porter