Joseph Smith Family Farm

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The Joseph Smith Family Farm is located in Palmyra and Manchester, New York, on 100 acres of land that the Smith family cultivated in the 1820s. Joseph Smith Sr. and his wife Lucy Mack Smith had encountered financial hardship and illness in Vermont and New Hampshire prior to moving to this property in 1816.

Before the family was able to purchase land, Joseph Smith Sr., Alvin, and Hyrum worked as hired hands. Lucy painted and sold decorative oilcloth coverings, and the younger children helped make various foodstuffs for sale at a nearby shop. Within two years the family was able to arrange for the purchase of a farm.[1]

Here on the Smith farm, the members of the family experienced “the mundane along with the miraculous.”[2] They constructed a small 1 1/2-story log home, approximately 1,000 square feet. They worked hard to clear two-thirds of the land from trees so that they could plant crops and create a grazing meadow and a large orchard.[3] The Smiths immediately began harvesting maple sap from the hundreds of maples found on approximately 40 acres. The maple sugar provided part of their annual income.[4] They also continued to hire out to other farmers.

In their first years on the farm, the Smiths also had to build miles of fences to protect their crops from roaming animals, dig and line wells with rock to provide for the family’s water needs, and construct outbuildings such as a threshing barn, cooper shop, tool shed, and privy.[5]

Oldest son, Alvin, had been doing much of the labor on a large frame house for his parents. His unexpected death in 1823 was “a major blow to the family both emotionally and economically.”[6] In order to finish the house after Alvin’s death, the family financially overextended themselves. They were able to enjoy the home only three months before they lost both the home and the land. They rented the frame house until they had to return to the log home as renters and worked the land as tenants.[7] They left the area in 1830.

Some of the miracles the family experienced included Joseph’s First Vision of God the Father and His Son, Jesus Christ, in the Sacred Grove and Moroni’s visit to Joseph in the log home. Joseph obtained the golden plates while the family lived on the farm. He hid them in several places in and around the frame house, and on at least one occasion he hid them in the family’s cooper shop.[8] While the family lived in the larger frame home, they gathered “to listen to Joseph share things he had learned from the angel Moroni about the ancient inhabitants of the Americas.”[9]

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints bought the home in 1907. The Joseph Smith Family Farm is part of the Sacred Grove site. Visitors to the site today can see an authentic re-creation of the log home in its original location. The frame house still stands on its original foundation and was restored, beginning in 1998, to reflect its 1820s appearance. During the restoration, it was discovered that 85 percent of the building materials had survived from Joseph Smith’s time.[10]

Visitors can also walk through the Sacred Grove. The Palmyra New York Temple is situated on the eastern edge of the original 100-acre Smith farm.