• Weird History

13 Strange Facts About The Early Days Of Mormonism

There are many crazy things that happened to the first Mormons. After Joseph Smith organized the first meeting of his religious followers in 1830, they were kicked out of numerous states in a violent manner. The early days of the Mormon Church were quite tumultuous. Before the group settled in Utah, they moved around quite a bit. They would get to a new location, build a church, and then be forced to leave when locals turned against them. 

However, early Mormon Church history involves more than just fleeing from one place to another, or even the creation of interesting Mormon sex practices. Members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints also joined the Sierra Nevada gold rush and massacred a group of emigrants from Arkansas, proving that they could dish it out as well as they could take it. These stories of early Mormonism are quite bloody indeed! 

  • Some Of The Eleven Witnesses To The Gold Plates Never Laid Eyes On Them

    According to the Book of Mormon, Smith received word of a series of golden plates buried by the angel Moroni. These plates contained the text that became the Book of Mormon, which founded the entire religion. He "translated by the gift and power of God" the words into English.

    Initially, Smith was not supposed to show the plates to anyone. However, the Book of Mormon lists eleven people who saw them besides Smith. They are supposed to be proof that the golden plates did indeed exist. Latter Day Saints believe all eleven accounts to be tried and true. However, some non-believers argue that a few of those witnesses later said that they only saw the plates with their "spiritual eyes," not their physical ones. 

  • Smith Was Almost Assassinated By Mormon Apostate William Law

    Photo: Adrian Volkov / Wikimedia Commons / Public Domain

    Mormon apostate William Law is attributed with causing dissension in the church prior to Joseph Smith's death in 1844. As one of the stout believers who suddenly disagreed with the religion, Law's espoused beliefs were hurting the Mormon church. Smith reacted by calling him a "Judas" in 1843, which resulted in more bad blood between the two. Law planned to kill Smith and even held secret gatherings to plan Smith's assassination that following spring. However, the plot was discovered in time, though Smith ended up dying in June that same year. 

  • While Setting Up A Religious Community In Kirtland, Ohio, Smith Was Tarred And Feathered

    Photo: Unknown / Wikimedia Commons / Public Domain

    On March 24, 1832, Smith and one of his adherents, Sidney Rigdon, were tarred and feathered. At the time, they were living in Kirtland, Ohio, where Smith was in the process of creating a Mormon settlement and the very first Mormon temple. As the story goes, Smith was up late watching over one of his children, who had the measles. All of a sudden, his front door burst open and around a dozen local men grabbed him and pulled Smith from his home. They tore his clothes off, tried to force tar into his mouth, and settled for coating his body in a layer of tar and feathers before vanishing into the night. 

  • Members Of The Mormon Religion Were Some Of The First Gold Miners In The West

    Photo: Harper's Weekly / Wikimedia Commons / Public Domain

    In 1848, according to the journal of the Mormon Henry Bigler, gold was discovered in California for the first time. It sent off a craze within the religious community, as veterans from the Mormon Battalions flocked to California to pan for fortune. Brigham Young even declared gold mining in California a mission for Latter Day Saints in 1849 and 1850. The wave of Mormons seeking riches gave birth to LSD settlements in the Golden State.