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Site Version January 2011




A Closer View of the Early Settlements (1835-1875)

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A critical analysis of Echo Park's State Historical Marker in Burlington.  Presented to the State Historical Markers Council, the City Council, and the Park Board, 1992.  Internet version 1999, 2001.

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Moses Smith's

1835 Mormon cabin.


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On 25 July 1992, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, Salt Lake City, Utah, intends to dedicate a State Historical Marker in Echo Park in Burlington, Wisconsin, recognizing their corporation for Wisconsin pioneer Mormon efforts. This Utah corporation, with eight million members worldwide, does not have public meetings in Burlington, but has branches they call wards in Milwaukee, Kenosha, and Elkhorn.

There is a smaller group of people, also calling themselves Latter Day Saints, who have been in the Burlington area continuously since 1835. These people are the remnant of James J. Strang's 1844-1856 settlement called the City of Voree, on Burlington's west edge, that once numbered more than two thousand people. The remainder splintered almost to extinction, and are holding public meetings in two places, one in Burlington Township and a newer one in Lyons Township. The Latter Day Saints around Burlington object to the placement of the marker in Echo Park by the Utah corporation, because information on the marker is false, misleading, and religiously biased.

Mormons have a dramatic and colorful history throughout the United States and abroad, and even in Wisconsin. When Joseph Smith first organized the church in 1830, with six young members, he founded it upon basic Bible principles. These were combined with the Book of Mormon that he said he translated from ancient metallic plates. Soon, they compiled a book of sacred church laws, called the Doctrine and Covenants, used in governing the church.

The new economic concepts of the early Mormons required them to emigrate from their homelands in New York to new gathering sites selected by their leaders. Soon after they organized the church in 1830, persecution arose at the place of their New York origins. In 1831, during a single expedition, the Latter Day Saint leaders appointed two settlements, one at Independence on the western Missouri frontier, and the other at Kirtland in northern Ohio. They designated Zion to be in Missouri, and Independence was to be the New Jerusalem. Kirtland was a satellite city, or stake, to which other Mormons could gather from the east.

From the beginning, the Mormons in Missouri engaged in conflicts with their Gentile neighbors, until the Gentiles banished them from Jackson County in 1833. They then began their gradual movement northeast, first moving north across the Missouri River to Clay County. Then, 1838, emigrated north to Caldwell County to flee oppression, where the Ohio members joined them for the same reason. When Missouri exiled them altogether in 1839, they moved east to Quincy, Illinois, then north to Nauvoo. In 1844, a mob killed Smith in an Illinois jail, and the church divided.

One important group moved still farther northeast to a location called Voree, near Burlington, Wisconsin, and later northeast again, sail across Lake Michigan to reach the islands of the Great Lakes and the Michigan mainland. After their leader, James J. Strang was shot and killed in 1856, the group almost vanished. Nevertheless, its colorful contribution to American culture is recognized in books, articles, and newspaper stories appearing from the press every year since Strang's death.

For other Mormons though, the route was westward with Brigham Young, to Utah. One hundred and fifty years later, the Utah LDS Church numbers more than eight million members, with billions of dollars, political influence, and business savvy.

The Utah LDS Church has brilliantly planned a public relations campaign in the Burlington area, for 25 July 1992. They invited the Mormon Tabernacle Choir, the Milwaukee Symphony, and a host of Utah and Madison dignitaries, with heavy press coverage. The crowded activities take place in Milwaukee. The Utah LDS Church plans to exploit Burlington's early Mormon history as a publicity event to promote their church in Wisconsin, and in Burlington, where they are seeking affluent converts.

But the history of the Mormons in Burlington is not parallel to the western emigration of the Utah LDS church. The Wisconsin towns listed on the marker are not Utah emigration towns, and the founders of the Mormon settlements opposed Brigham and his emigration to Utah. The marker mentions specifically Moses Smith, Burlington's first Mormon—but Brigham was his greatest enemy. Most Wisconsin Mormons emigrated to Michigan, not Utah, and the others emigrated to Texas. The marker ends with the misleading assertion that there were no Mormons in Wisconsin between 1850 and 1875. There were large settlements of people here then, who their Wisconsin neighbors have always labeled Mormons.

This paper gathers evidence that demonstrates the historical inaccuracy of the Utah corporation's State Historical Marker. After reviewing the evidence, the City of Burlington and the State of Wisconsin ought to reject the intrusion by this powerful Utah corporation and church. They then should publicize local history for cultural appreciation and valuable tourist attractions.

Wisconsin's first Mormon, Moses Smith, settled Burlington (first called Foxville) in 1835.(1) There, Moses built up a branch of one hundred Latter Day Saints. In about 1838, Moses and his brother cultivated a special relationship with Mormon founder Joseph Smith and his father in Kirtland, Ohio.(2) In 1842, Moses, like Joseph, opened a general store in Nauvoo, Illinois.(3) In January 1843, "great excitement was created" when Moses' store was broken into in the night. The robber took one thousand dollars worth of goods (three years pay for a laborer). Joseph called a mayor's court to aid his associate Moses, and the thief was thrown into the county jail.(4) Even after the robbery, prosperous Moses could lend his friend Joseph seven hundred and thirty dollars, probably never recovered, in exchange for a simple note.(5) Joseph returned the favor tenfold, when on 18 June 1844, just before the mob killed Joseph, he appointed Moses to the distinction of a special ambassador to deliver his last instructions to the church. Moses was charged with beginning the relocation of the Nauvoo headquarters to safety and peace in Wisconsin.(6)

On 15 January 1846, the new church headquarters at Voree, Wisconsin sent Moses with other emissaries to Nauvoo.(7) Upon their arrival, they attempted to read an announcement about the emigration to Wisconsin. Local Illinois newspapers report that when they attempted to read, Brigham Young and his adherents opposed them. They were "surrounded by a mob who attempted to drive them from the city. Whereupon a row ensued, in which clubs were used freely. The Twelve-ites [with Brigham] gained the victory and drove their opponents from the ground."(8) According to George Miller, an important Wisconsin Mormon, Brigham laid a plan with Hosea Stout, his police captain. Stout was "to contrive a row to take place in the Temple, and have me called in to appease the rowdies, and Stout was to be there in readiness to kill me." The row occurred as predicted. Stout called Miller in to calm the turmoil, but the mob wanted Moses, and allowed Miller to escape.(9) The incident eventually made Miller follow the advice of Moses. In another account originating with Moses, Brigham sent an officer of the police to disperse the crowds listening to Moses. "This order being disregarded, a mob crowded around, headed by an officer of police, armed with knives and pistols, threatening their lives and endeavoring to seize them." They fled to safety at a more faithful member's house.(10)

Moses was only partially successful on his mission to Nauvoo, but the rejection of the announcements he delivered caused Brigham to be notified on 13 January 1846 to stand trial for usurpation.(11) Brigham had already chosen his best debater, Reuben Miller, to combat Strang in northern Illinois, and urge the Mormons to go west rather than north.(12) Instead of persuading them, Reuben lost the debate and became an eager convert of Strang. Reuben's next appointment was to return to Nauvoo and summon Brigham to trial in Voree. On 7 April 1846, a high council excommunicated Brigham at Voree for conspiracy to overthrow the order of the Church, usurpation, tyrannous administration, teaching false doctrines, and blasphemy.(13) The church immediately presented and unanimously chose Moses to take Brigham's place in the quorum of twelve apostles. With that finished, they chose Reuben to be the president of the Voree Stake.(14)

This evidence explains that Moses was not a member of the same religious culture and heritage that settled Utah. By associating him with the westward expansion, the Utah LDS Church's marker is suggestive that Moses was a member of a group that was a source of bitter and violent religious persecution for him.

About two thirds of all the Mormons rejected the order for Latter Day Saints to gather in Wisconsin. Instead, they acknowledged Brigham Young's 1847 election to be their president, contrary to the laws of the church.(15) That tumultuous political climate caused a rift that is an embarrassment to Utah's LDS Church today, and therefore Voree is absent from their new historical marker entirely. Nevertheless, about one third of all the Mormons throughout the nation acknowledged Joseph Smith's 1844 selection of the location of Voree, and James J. Strang as their next president. In 1848, the difference in the number of national Mormons favoring Wisconsin, and those favoring Utah, was becoming less, as Wisconsin gained popularity.(16)

Most of the early Mormon settlements in Wisconsin were tiny branches integrated into larger Gentile communities. Voree, however, was a boom town as important as any other inland settlement in the state during the same time. Moreover, the city was all Mormon—as many as two thousand or more sprinkled across the rolling hills and prairies just west of modern Burlington. The industrious and innovative Voree Mormons bought a printing press in Philadelphia. With it they impressed thousands of bright (and thick) pamphlets and interesting newspapers, and their own hymn books. Besides a subsistence agricultural industry, Voree's trade with its friendly neighbors included commercial printing, medicine, plough manufacturing, shoemaking, tailoring, marble tombstone cutting, and even the raising of english fox terriers. One inhabitant of Voree later made the scientific discovery that tomatoes are edible, instead of poisonous.

Voree was large too, and new land record studies indicate that Voree's land development was on the east of modern Burlington as well as on the west. Recently discovered court records at Brigham Young University in Provo, Utah, are giving new insight into the United and Associated Order at Voree. Faithful members consecrated their surplus property into the order, then they received anything they needed for their support. Historic landmarks remaining at Voree today include hand hewn quarry stone houses, and other houses built with a strikingly beautiful cobble stone architecture from New York's Erie Canal district. Also in the area are the one hundred and fifty year old Cemetery of the Saints, and a historic temple building site. There is religious significance in the place in a grove of enormous oak trees, where in 1845 Strang brought a group of witnesses to unbury an ancient engraved brass record. For all this, Voree should not be unmentioned on a historical marker in the midst of its original site.

Utah's LDS Church mentions Oliver Cowdery in the context of being a Mormon in Wisconsin (and a member of their church). However, he left the Latter Day Saints in 12 April 1838, moved to Wisconsin in 1848, and did not become a member again until someone rebaptized him on 12 November 1848 after he left Wisconsin. Cowdery was not a Wisconsin Mormon a single day during his residence in the state.(17) On the other hand, every other living Book of Mormon witness (charter members of sorts in the church) besides Cowdery endorsed moving the headquarters of the church to Wisconsin during the same time period. Hiram Page, David and John Whitmer, and Martin Harris sustained Strang as the legal president of the church.(18) Joseph Smith's only surviving brother, William, and two other members of his quorum of twelve relocated to Voree. Two of Smith's assistant presidents and the bishop of the entire church also came to Voree.(19) Most relevant, all of these people contributed to the settlement of the region as Mormons, but Cowdery did not.

The Utah LDS Church's marker includes La Crosse's Mormon settlement as part of their contributions to Wisconsin history. At the same time, the marker excludes Strang's Voree settlement as insignificant because the people in Voree preferred to stay in Wisconsin, rather than move to Utah. Actually, the La Crosse settlement was not a part of Utah's LDS Church either, but a divergent group headed by another early Mormon, Lyman Wight. The principle difference between La Crosse and Voree today is simply that the Wight religious group is extinct. The Strang group remains a competitive threat, albeit small, to the modern Utah LDS Church's current mission in Wisconsin.

Mormons settled La Crosse only after Joseph Smith's assassination on 27 June 1844, when Wight and one hundred and fifty Mormons came to Wisconsin. They steamed up the Mississippi enroute from Nauvoo, Illinois at the beginning of September 1844. They rested on government land sixty or eighty miles north of Prairie du Chein, at about what was then Prairie La Crosse.(20) Wight then left Wisconsin on 27 March 1845 with all one hundred and fifty Mormons and went to Texas on a two thousand mile journey. They arrived on 16 November 1845, and participated in the sensational history of Texas(21)

Wight previously founded an important Mormon community in Missouri, Adam-ondi-ahman, in 1838.(22) On 7 April 1841, Wight was chosen to be a member of the church's quorum of twelve apostles. In this position he was equal in authority with Brigham, though Brigham presided over their council meetings as the eldest member.(23) They dropped Wight from their fellowship in the fall of 1844 for relocating to Wisconsin, though he was not formally removed from the Utah LDS Church's membership until 1849. Certainly he removed himself, however, through his explicit refusal to acknowledge the authority of the Utah emigration.(24)

There is no record of Brigham's LDS Church ever making a settlement at La Crosse. Mormons did not mine lead ore there at all, as engraved on the Utah LDS Church's new marker. Further, to identify La Crosse as a genuine Mormon settlement during the post-1844 years, while excluding Voree, displays religious bias and inconsistency. Neither settlement was part of Brigham's LDS Church domain. The Voree settlement was more than ten times larger and lasted ten times longer, and is therefore more significant to local history. Utah's LDS Church is seeking credit for the La Crosse settlement, while excluding the Voree Stake as "separatists," because the modern church does not want to publicize a competitive group of Mormons. If the focus of the marker is too narrow to include Voree, then the settlement of Wight during the winter 1844-1845 is also beyond the scope. Neither are appropriate for an early Mormon historical marker seeking to recognize the settlements of the greater Latter Day Saint church before Joseph Smith's 27 June 1844 assassination, or of Utah emigrants only.

Utah's LDS Church is also seeking credit on their marker for the Black River settlements. History shows that the church members there did not consider Brigham's LDS Church to be the legal successor to the pre-1844 church either. Further, the evidence suggests that most of the Mormons from the Black River settlements went to Texas, some went to Michigan, and the remainder dispersed throughout Wisconsin.

George Miller organized the Black River Company in the fall of 1841, and purchased the mills in the pineries on Black River to float lumber down the Mississippi for the temple in Nauvoo. Miller was bishop over all the Latter Day Saints, and later president over the high priests' quorum. He arrived at the falls of Black River for the first time on 31 December 1842, returning occasionally to Nauvoo.(25) In August 1843, Before Lyman Wight's La Crosse and Texas treks, the church assigned him to take charge of the Black River Lumber Company with Miller.(26) When both Miller and Wight returned to Nauvoo at the end of April 1844, shortly afterwards the mills fell out of the hands of the church, and local Mormons dispersed throughout Wisconsin.(27)

Like Wight, Miller opposed Brigham's 1844-1847 overthrow of the church's government and declared that Brigham's new organization "must certainly be erroneous, unless the order and priesthood of God's kingdom had been abrogated, and another established in the stead thereof."(28) Rather than go to Utah, Miller took a company of Mormons and joined Wight in Texas from 15 December 1847 until 4 July 1850. Then he returned to Voree with a company of twenty three of the Mormons. Some of Miller's company remained in Voree, and others continued with him to join the new settlements in Michigan.(29) There, Miller was appointed general-in-chief in Strang's literal kingdom of God, before finally returning to Wisconsin in 1856, and dying that year.(30)

While excluding the Voree Stake as separatists, the Utah LDS Church's new historical marker gives credit for the Black River Falls branch to the modern corporate Utah LDS Church, even though the two leaders at Black River, Miller and Wight, opposed the Utah emigration. Sources of Black River history display a distinction between Utah's modern LDS Church progression and the development of Wisconsin. Certainly Black River's Mormon pioneer experiences and logging history did more to impact the settlement of Texas and the famous lumbering efforts of the Mormons in the dense forests of Beaver Island, Michigan, than on the western emigration of Brigham to Utah's treeless desert.

The Utah LDS Church's marker also mentions Jenkynsville and Blanchardville as special among the lead mine settlements, which is peculiar. Actually, there were several dozen Mormon diggings within the southwest Wisconsin region, especially in Grant and Iowa Counties, where it was the church branches of Potosi and Mineral Point that attracted (and produced) the most Mormons. Mentioning both Jenkynsville and Blanchardville in one county, to exclude all neighboring counties, seems to be an oversight. Introducing Jenkynsville, where Mormon history is so uneventful that even a mention of the place seems to have eluded every professional Mormon historian, is pointless. Mentioning Blanchardville in 1842, a town not named until about 1860, is inaccurate.(31)

The Utah LDS Church's marker mentions Jenkynsville as a lead mining town, with little known about the place, and omits a mention of Potosi, a prominent Mormon lead mining town, because that branch moved to Voree and then to Michigan. Potosi (Smoke Hollow) was a significant Mormon preaching ground in the lead mines by at least 1841.(32) After the 1844 assassination of Joseph Smith, local member Benjamin G. Wright was appointed president over the western district of Wisconsin.(33) On 8 February 1849, Wright (not confused with Wight) reported the branch in Potosi still in favorable condition.(34) He eventually became the president of the branch at Voree.(35) Throughout the 1840s, the branch at Potosi continued to support and sustain the presidency at Voree. On 7 February 1848, Samuel Blair and Henry Deam reported preaching to crowds of visitors in their branch of sixteen members, and having a shortage of hymn books.(36) Others in the church included David Powell and Ethan Griffith.(37) Wisconsin ought to remember Potosi for the great Mormons who settled there.

Other southwestern mining branches, besides Potosi, were temporary assemblies of Illinois Mormons who came north to acquire capital in the diggings, then planned to return to the settlements in Illinois. Finding references to Wisconsin mining Mormons who went directly to Utah is difficult, if not impossible. However, it is imaginable that some miners did return to Illinois from Wisconsin, then emigrated to Utah with the rest of the Nauvoo companies, but even this is troublesome to prove. Many early Mormons kept diaries and journals. Lead miners may have been less literate in general than the average Mormon, and may have labored too intensely to afford time to write an account of their church movements. The Utah LDS Church's marker says that Wisconsin Mormons joined the emigration to Utah in 1844, while there is no evidence that any Wisconsin branch ever emigrated to Utah, nor is there any evidence that any Wisconsin branch emigrated during 1844 to any other place. There seems to be more indicators that the lead miners remained with the Voree presidency in Wisconsin, than there is that they emigrated to Utah.

Except for the Utah LDS Church's exploitation of Moses Smith's first Latter Day Saint branch at Burlington, they have otherwise disregarded the southeastern Wisconsin branches. These branches are different than the mining encampments of the southwest. Rather than inhabit Wisconsin to obtain financial resources needed for Nauvoo, southeastern Wisconsin Mormons formed permanent enterprises and agricultural farms. Utah's LDS Church has omitted these on the new historical marker because all of these branches, though part of the greater Latter Day Saint church during the pre-1844 period, systematically acknowledged the appointment of Voree, Wisconsin as the new headquarters for the church after 1844.

The Mormons in Rock County, for example, continued their support of the Voree presidency, and represented two branches in 1848, one in Porter and one in Koshkonong. The church assigned to the area John E. Page, one of the twelve who was equal with Brigham before 1844. The church also subsequently ordained Hiram P. Brown from Rock County to be one of the twelve. Phineas Wright, Benjamin's brother and another member of the twelve, went on another mission to the same place.(38)

The Mormons of Beloit Prairie, too, remained under the direction of Jason W. Briggs, who Strang ordained to a high priest on 7 April 1846. He still represented a full branch at Beloit on 6 October 1848.(39) Phineas Wright went there on 24 January 1849, and found members still supporting the presidency at Voree.(40)

In Waukesha (Prairieville), Silas Briggs of the Beloit area baptized Gilbert Watson on 1 June 1844. Briggs was appointed to Wisconsin Territory by a special conference in Nauvoo, and the only travelling missionary sent to Wisconsin of three hundred and fifty sent elsewhere.(41) During that time Watson lived with the Mormon family of Almon H. White in Prairieville. Briggs and White both participated in the government of the church in Voree also, and still held the branch at Prairieville on 6 October 1846.(42) On 6 April 1848, Watson was appointed a bishop in Voree.(43) Benjamin G. Wright and Jason W. Briggs organized a second branch in Waukesha on 17 September 1849.(44) Nearby in Milwaukee County, Aaron Smith completed a mission on 6 April 1846 at which he "had persuaded all the brethren" against emigrating to Utah.(45) Other southeastern Wisconsin branches continued to represent themselves in Voree after 1844, including Yorkville, Wheatland, Darien, and Sharon.(46)

The Utah LDS Church's marker suggests that most of Wisconsin's faithful Mormons emigrated to Utah, which is misleading. The southwestern Wisconsin church branches, such as those in Grant, Iowa, and Lafayette Counties, numbered scarcely a dozen members each. Even if every single lead mining member had emigrated to Utah, which there is no evidence that they did, the emigration could not have been as high as the one hundred and fifty pioneers that Wight led to Texas. Certainly, then, the 1847-1850 emigration of those that joined the Voree Mormons in the steady departure to the islands of the Great Lakes is momentous. By 1850, the Michigan emigrants numbered between six and seven hundred, a vast majority of all Wisconsin Mormons who ever emigrated from Wisconsin.(47) Two thousand additional Mormons joined the Michigan settlements from the east between 1850-1856. The Utah LDS Church's exclusive mention of Utah as a terminal point of emigration exhibits bias towards the modern headquarters of their church.

The Utah LDS Church's marker says that Wisconsin Mormons went to Utah after 1844. The settlement of Utah by Mormons (who were from Illinois) did not occur until 1847, the same year most of Wisconsin Mormons began emigrating to Michigan. From the Utah LDS Church's point of view, however, Wisconsin Mormons were not Mormons. But the citizens of Michigan who in 1850 received them into their state—then swiftly expelled them back out—had a different perspective. To these neighbors in Michigan, as well as in northern Wisconsin, the new religious group was culturally Mormon.

Even the Utah LDS Church's assertion that few Mormons remained in Wisconsin after 1850, until 1875, is untrue. There have been Mormons in the Burlington area using the name Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints continuously from 1835 until the present time, making the name public domain. This is documented in newspaper articles and in their printed books.(48)

After Strang was shot on Beaver Island on 16 June 1856, the Mormons on Beaver Island were driven in masses onto ships waiting down at the harbor. On 3 July 1856, a correspondent of the Green Bay Advocate claimed he participated in the driving out of the Mormons on Beaver Island for the citizens of Green Bay and Washington Island in Wisconsin: "The plan is to return this week if possible, with at least 150 men, properly armed and equipped, and just clear every Mormon from the island—peaceably if possible—but if they won't do that, then at the range of the rifle."(49) They accomplished this objective. One ship, the steamer Buckeye State, loaded up three hundred and fifty people for banishment to the western ports of Lake Michigan, in Wisconsin. According to the Green Bay Advocate, the Buckeye State brought ninety Mormons to Green Bay, and delivered the rest to Racine and Milwaukee.(50)

The Utah LDS Church's story that it was not until 1875 that Mormons reestablished a presence in Wisconsin, is therefore false. They are promoting their intolerant exclusion of at least three hundred and fifty Mormons who returned to Wisconsin in 1856, who went forth again to create large pioneer Mormon settlements. They settled in Black River Falls, Hixton, Warrens, Wrightsville, and Alma Center in Jackson County in the 1860s, besides Racine, Walworth, Trempealeau, and Grant counties. The majority of Strang's apostles lived in Jackson County, and named Alma Center for a Book of Mormon man named Alma, and Wrightsville after Benjamin G. Wright. The printer of the Voree Gospel Herald and the Beaver Island Northern Islander, Francis Cooper, printed the Badger State Banner there for fifty years while he held secret Mormon meetings. Gentiles killed one Mormon's son just for being a "Mormon." The father published a full length book on their conflicts with their neighbors, and printed it in Black River Falls in 1871, before the Utah LDS Church's 1875 marker date. Certainly he was a Mormon then.(51)

The Utah LDS Church's marker uses the modern corporate style of "The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (Mormons)." While the differences seem subtle to outsiders, they are telltale clues to today's Mormons. The punctuation style of Utah's LDS Church evolved from irregular use after some of the Utah leaders visited England, and adapted the English hyphenated Latter-day to replace the early American spelling. The modern corporate style usage beginning the name with a capitalized The distinguishes the Utah LDS Church from other local groups using the archaic public domain name. When Moses Smith settled Burlington in 1835 they called the church simply "Church of the Latter Day Saints," and after 1838, "Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints." The newspaper printed the name in the old style within Moses' obituary in 1849.

From the reference point of local Mormons, the Utah LDS Church's use of the modern name on an early Wisconsin history marker is an attempt to associate the pioneer efforts of Moses Smith and other Wisconsin Mormons with the emigration efforts of Brigham Young in the founding of Utah, which evolved into their current corporation. The historical evidence presented here demonstrates that Wisconsin Mormons have an identity of their own separate and distinct from the expansion westward to Utah. The Utah LDS Church's marker refers to Utah emigrants as Mormons in a favorable context, while referring to other Wisconsin settlers as "separatists" in a negative context, biasing the marker in favor of the single Mormon group in Utah, and prejudicing their members against those who remained in Wisconsin.

Utah's LDS Church used their influence to discourage and halt American citizens from settling in Wisconsin, when they desired their freedom in this constitutional state, and they did not share the history and culture of Wisconsin with local Mormons. Having no part of this history, they should not capitalize on it now as part of a marketing strategy with an objective toward corporate expansion. Therefore, Wisconsin and Burlington should stop the Utah LDS Church's plans to erect this monument.

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1. Perhaps the earliest source of Burlington history is the brief correspondence of Moses Smith in the exceedingly rare Latter Day Saints' Messenger and Advocate, June 1837, in which Moses writes from Foxville [now Burlington], Racine County, Wisconsin Territory, to state that there were six members there, including himself.

2. Voree Gospel Herald, 14 June 1849.

3. Ibid.

4. Nauvoo, Illinois Times and Seasons, 1 February 1844; and Affidavit of Moses Smith before Joseph Smith, Nauvoo mayor, in the Historical Department, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, Salt Lake City, Utah.

5. The note is in the financial documents of Newel K. Whitney, the Nauvoo bishop, Brigham Young University, Provo, Utah.

6. Smith's original order is preserved at the Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library, Yale University, New Haven, Connecticut. Recent research demonstrates that the document is genuine and in the hand of Smith, with an authentic Nauvoo postmark. Two skillful historical analyses were published by Strang: The Diamond: Being the law of Prophetic Succession, and a Defence of the Calling of James J. Strang as Successor to Joseph Smith, (Voree, Wisconsin: Gospel Herald Print, 1848; and The Prophetic Controversy, (St. James [Beaver Island]: Cooper and Chidester, 1856). See also the notable letter of Strang to Moses Smith, 25 October 1844, Historical Department, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, Salt Lake City, Utah.

7. Chronicles of Voree, 15 January 1846.

8. Burlington [Iowa] Hawkeye, 12 February 1846.

9. Miller, 1 July 1855.

10. Voree Gospel Herald, 14 June 1849.

11. Chronicles of Voree, 13 January 1846.

12. Ibid., 28 December 1845.

13. Ibid., 7 April 1846.

14. Ibid.

15. Joseph Smith, comp., The Doctrine and Covenants of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, (Nauvoo, Illinois: Printed by John Taylor, 1844), III, 9, 12-13, 31, 42; V, 6, 10; XI, 4; XIV, 1-2; L, 2-3; LI, 2; LXXXV, 2; XLVI, 1; CIII, 39; CIV, 6-7, 11.

16. Strang, The Diamond, back cover wrapper.

17. For the 1838 excommunication of Oliver Cowdery see Donald Q. Cannon and Lyndon W. Cook, eds., Far West Record: Minutes of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, (Salt Lake City: Deseret, 1983), 162-171.

18. See for instance John Whitmer's manuscript history, Library and Archives, The Auditorium, Independence, Missouri. See also the correspondence of Hiram Page, on behalf of himself and the Whitmers, with James J. Strang, summarized in the Voree Gospel Herald, 20 January 1848. Martin Harris' participation at the August 1846 conference in Kirtland, and his mission to England preaching about Voree is abstracted in the Voree Herald, September 1846. Oliver Cowdery is the only living witness who did not support the emigration to Wisconsin, because he was no longer a Mormon. His residence in Walworth County anyway, at the county seat of the Voree settlement, was implicit support, and William Cowdery, Oliver's father, gave explicit support for Voree instead.

19. The support of Strang's Wisconsin settlement by apostles William Smith, John E. Page, and William E. McLellin; presidents George J. Adams and John C. Bennett; mother Lucy Mack Smith, wife Emma Hale Smith, and Joseph's brother and sisters; bishop and president of the high priests' quorum George Miller; Nauvoo stake president William Marks; Iowa president of the elders' quorum Daniel Avery; several presidents of seventy; Wisconsin missionaries Jason W. Briggs and Zenos H. Gurley; and even Joseph Smith's best friend John P. Greene; is documented throughout early historical documents and publications.

20. Dubuque [Iowa] Transcript, 6 September 1844; Davenport [Iowa] Gazette, 12 September and 26 December 1844; and Iowa Standard, 12 September 1844.

21. Lyman Wight, An Address: By Way of an Abridged Account and Journal of My Life From February 1844 to April 1848, With an Appeal to the Latter Day Saints, Scattered Abroad in the Earth . . . , (Austin, Texas: 1848), 4-8.

22. Elders' Journal of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, August 1838.

23. Nauvoo, Illinois Times and Seasons, 15 April 1841.

24. Kanesville, Iowa Frontier Guardian, 28 May 1849; Nauvoo, Illinois Times and Seasons, 1 November 1845.

25. George Miller, "Correspondence," 26 June 1855, printed in the St. James (Beaver Island), Michigan Northern Islander. Also reprinted as Correspondence of Bishop George Miller With the Northern Islander, From His First Acquaintance With Mormonism Up to Near the Close of His Life, (Burlington, Wisconsin: Wingfield Watson, 1916); and, A Mormon Bishop and His Son: Fragments of a Diary Kept by G. Miller, Sr., Bishop in the Mormon Church . . . , (London: H. W. Mills, 1917); and, A Mormon Bishop and His Son: Fragments of a Diary Kept by G. Miller, Sr., Bishop in the Mormon Church . . . , (Los Angeles: Historical Society of Southern California, 1917). See also the Nauvoo, Illinois Times and Seasons, 2 May 1842, for an early report on the pine country mills.

26. Wight, 4; and Miller, 27 June 1855.

27. Miller, 28 June 1855. Local historians in the Black River Falls area indicate that the families of Benjamin, Phineas, and Samuel Wright, for example, were connected with the lumber companies before joining the Voree and Michigan settlements of James J. Strang.

28. Miller, 1 July 1855.

29. Ibid., 10 August 1855.

30. Warren Post, manuscript record book, 15-17, 60, State Historical Society of Iowa, Des Moines.

31. For a detailed contemporary account of a mission to the lead mines, see William Clark, journal, Journal of History, (Lamoni, Iowa: Reorganized Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, April 1913), [130]-176. For other biographical and geographical sketches see Pearl Wilcox, Regathering of the Scattered Saints in Wisconsin . . . , (Independence, Missouri: 1984); and Alma Brookover, "Cradle of the Reorganization," unpublished manuscript, Library and Archives, The Auditorium, Independence, Missouri.

32. Clark, 136.

33. Chronicles of Voree, 6 April 1847, and Voree Zion's Reveille, 8 July 1847.

34. Voree Gospel Herald, 8 February 1849.

35. Miller, 10 August 1855.

36. Voree Gospel Herald, 17 February 1848.

37. Ibid., 16 March and 14 December 1848.

38. Voree Gospel Herald, 23 March and 20 April 1848, and 8 March 1849; Chronicles of Voree, 6 October 1848.

39. Chronicles of Voree, 7 April 1846 and 6 October 1848.

40. Voree Gospel Herald, 8 February 1849.

41. Nauvoo, Illinois Times and Seasons, 15 April 1844.

42. Chronicles of Voree, 6 October 1846.

43. Gilbert Watson, "Journal of Gilbert Watson Comprising Also a Short Account of His Life and Travels," manuscript in private collection.

44. Voree Gospel Herald, 27 September 1849.

45. Chronicles of Voree, 6 April 1846.

46. These are some of the Wisconsin branches represented at conferences recorded in the Chronicles of Voree. Many other branches were represented for which locations are no longer known.

47. Ancient and Modern Michilimackinac: Including an Account of the Controversy Between Mackinac and the Mormons, (St. James [Beaver Island], Michigan: Cooper and Chidester, 1854), 22-24.

48. The church was in Burlington since 1835, but the present name was given by prophecy on 26 April 1838, "for thus shall my church be called in the last days, the 'church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints,'" Elder's Journal of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, August 1838.

49. Green Bay Advocate, 26 June 1856.

50. Ibid., 17 July 1856.

51. For further research on the Jackson County settlements, see the abundant Mormon files at the Black River Falls Public Library, Black River Falls, Wisconsin; the Jackson County land records, Jackson County Courthouse, Black River Falls, Wisconsin; the Diary of James O. McNutt at the State Historical Society of Wisconsin, Madison; the Personal History of Warren Post at the State Historical Society of Iowa, Des Moines; An Outline Sketch of the Travels of James Hutchins [Mormon apostle], Black River Falls, Wisconsin: 1871).



Continuing Faith

For baptism for the remission
of sins, it is necessary only to have
faith toward God, and to repent of all sin.

To receive baptism by immersion, contact:


Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints
Mormon Road and Hwy. 11
Burlington, Wisconsin

(800) 862-5667



One example of our
concise priesthood lineage

Prophet Joseph Smith, 1829

Ebenezer Page, 1830
(Early Mormon in N.Y., Missouri, brother of John E. Page,
Later an Apostle at Voree, Wis., and Beaver Island)

Elder Wingfield Watson, 1858
(Lived on Beaver Island)

Elder Joseph H. Hickey, 1907
(Son of L.D. Hickey who lived at Palmyra, N.Y., Nauvoo, Ill.,
Voree, Wis., and was an apostle on Beaver Island)

Elder Steve Barany, 1953
(Son-in-law of Joseph H. Hickey, died in 2010 at 95)



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© 1996-2011 Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints.  All Rights Reserved.
The First Presidents of this Church were Joseph Smith Jr. 1830-1844, and James J. Strang 1844-1856.
The First Presidency was at Voree, Wisconsin 1844-1850, and St. James (Beaver Island), Michigan 1850-1856.

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