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Joseph Smith

It's not every state that can claim the birth of a prophet... Joseph Smith, found of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints (aka, Mormonism) was born in Sharon, Vermont on Dec. 23, 1805 to a poor family that spent several years moving around upper New England and New York. Forced to help support his family, Smith had little formal education growing up, although he was "given to meditation and deep study," according to his mother.

When he was fourteen and living with this family in the area of Palmyra, New York, Joseph Smith called upon God to help him select a religion to dedicate his life to. God and Jesus Christ then came to him and told Smith that he was to choose none, but rather restore the true church. After translating a series of golden plates he found buried near his family's farm, Smith wrote the Book of Mormon (1830), a religious record of the ancient inhabitants of North America. The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints was officially formed on April 6, 1830.

The Church faced a lot of opposition for many years, based in no small part on a segment of it that practiced polygamy, and Smith was frequently imprisoned and even tarred and feathered in Ohio. He began a presidential bid in 1844, and was arrested and jailed for treason and conspiracy in the year same year in Carthage, Illinois. It was while in jail in Carthage that he and his brother, Hyrum, were killed by a mob on June 27, 1844.

The Church today has close to 10 million members and is located in countries around the world, although the Mormon center is located in Utah. Forty-five thousand rotating missionaries roam the world every year to bring more and more people into the Church, which places a high value on physical health (no alcohol, tobacco, caffeine, etc.) and communal organization.

The birthplace of Joseph Smith is memorialized in the Joseph Smith Birthplace Memorial that is located in Sharon (follow Rt. 14 north from Sharon and look for a sign to the right a couple of miles from the town center; if you hit South Royalton, you've gone too far). In addition to a granite memorial and a visitors center with diorama and films, the grounds are open (free of charge) for hiking and picnicking. Visitor around Christmas will be treated to a nightly light show that is well worth the trip.

For More Information:

Joseph Smith: The First Mormon
by Donna Hill

No Man Knows My History: The Life of Joseph Smith
by Fawn McKay Brodie, Peter Dimock (Editor)

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints
Visit the Church's official Website.

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