The Social Origins of the Kirtland Mormons

Early in the spring of 1831, members of a new religious movement entered Ohio’s scenic Western Reserve and settled in the town of Kirtland. They came, men, women, and children, in every conceivable manner, some with horses, oxen, and vehicles rough and rude, while others had walked all or part of the distance. The future “City of the Saints” appeared like one besieged. Every available house, shop, hut, or barn was filled to its utmost capacity. Even boxes were roughly extemporized and used for shelter until something more permanent could be secured. The major force that influenced this migration to Geauga County was the people’s conversion and belief that the Lord had called them to “gather” in that region (D&C 37:3, 38:32). This conversion to a new pattern of thinking and behavior was a fundamental difference between the Latter-day Saint immigrants and other Americans in the decades before the Civil War.

Purchase this Issue