Restoration and Church History
Far West

“Far West,” Church History Topics

“Far West”

Far West

In 1836, three years after Latter-day Saints had been driven from Jackson County, the Missouri legislature created Caldwell County, a new county in a sparsely settled portion of the state, which they intended as a place for Latter-day Saints to settle. The Saints purchased land there and began building a city called Far West.1 In April 1838, the Lord revealed to Joseph Smith that Far West would be “a holy and consecrated land” as the Saints gathered there to build a temple and worship Him.2

From late 1836 to 1839, as many as five thousand Saints established homes in and around Far West, which served as Church headquarters after Joseph Smith arrived in March 1838.3 During his time in Far West, the Prophet received seven revelations later published in the Doctrine and Covenants. In these revelations, the Lord revealed the full name of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and established the law of tithing, among other things.4

The settlement in Far West was modeled after the “Plat of the City of Zion,” a settlement plan originally intended for the building of Zion in Jackson County, Missouri.5 On July 4, 1838, the Saints placed and dedicated the four cornerstones for a temple in their new city.6

Missouri. Caldwell Co. Far West

Temple cornerstone and monument in Far West, Missouri.

No further work was done on the temple. Mob violence against the Saints in Caldwell and neighboring counties in the fall of 1838 soon grew into a large-scale armed conflict. Missouri governor Lilburn W. Boggs ordered the state militia to surround Far West and drive the Saints from the state. Major General Samuel D. Lucas, commander of the state militia, met with a delegation of Saints just outside Far West and demanded that Joseph Smith and other Church leaders submit to arrest or he would attack the city. When the delegation returned to Far West, one of its members, George M. Hinkle, told Joseph that Lucas “desired an interview” but apparently did not explain that the general intended to take him prisoner. Joseph and others agreed to meet with Lucas and were immediately arrested and threatened with execution, but they were ultimately imprisoned pending a trial.7

Expulsion of the Saints

Depiction of the surrender at Far West in November 1838.

While Joseph Smith was in prison, the Saints complied with the state’s demands to leave Missouri and used Far West as a staging ground for their exodus. One of the revelations Joseph received instructed the Twelve Apostles to leave Far West on April 26, 1839, for a mission to England.8 Some opponents of the Church boasted that they had prevented the fulfillment of this divine instruction. However, before the Twelve’s mission to England, Brigham Young and other Apostles returned to the Far West temple site under cover of night to fulfill the revelation on the appointed day.9