Monday, March 26, 2018

Church History Tour: Priesthood Restoration Site

The next day we visited the Priesthood Restoration Site. I had just taught a Sunday school lesson on this subject so I was super excited to see all the special places that I had spent so much time researching. I got this map and all the descriptions from

We began our visit at the welcome center, these beautiful statues depicted the restoration of the Aaronic and Melchizedek priesthood are right by the entrance. We took pictures of all the men in the family who have recieved each of the priesthoods.

The Aaronic priesthood can be received at the age of 12, Ben had just had the wonderful opportunity to receive this priesthood shortly before our trip.

The Melchizedek priesthood can be received at the age of 18, before young men head out on their missions. Andrew had just received this special priesthood before our trip as he will be heading out on his mission this September. We are all so excited and anxious to see where he is called!

The welcome center is fun and interactive, with things geared towards all ages. The kids had a fun time playing with all the interactive exhibits that taught about different aspects of the restoration of the priesthood. While the adults read all the interesting plaques detailing this special church history event. We all gathered together to watch a short film about the restoration of the priesthood before setting out on a guided tour of the rest of the site.

"In 1790, Isaac and Elizabeth Hale settled in Harmony, Pennsylvania, where Isaac had bought a 150-acre (61-hectare) farm with a small log home. Eight of their nine children were born in that home.

Around 1810, Isaac and his family moved the log home off its foundation and built a two-story home in its place. In 1825, Joseph Smith lodged in the old log home while working in the area and met Isaac and Elizabeth’s daughter Emma. When Emma and Joseph were married in 1827, they first lived with Joseph’s family in upstate New York. Less than a year later, they lived briefly with Emma’s parents in their home. Here Joseph began his work with the translation of the Book of Mormon, copying characters from the golden plates.

The home has been reconstructed in its original location"

"In autumn 1828, Lucy Mack Smith visited her son Joseph’s 13½-acre farm in Harmony, Pennsylvania. While there she met Isaac and Elizabeth Hale, the parents of Joseph’s wife, Emma. Lucy described the Hale family’s home as a “mansion” with “every convenient appendage necessary.”1 The Hale family’s home at the Priesthood Restoration Site shows the prosperous circumstances in which Emma Hale lived before she married Joseph Smith. Leaving her childhood home behind was an early example of Emma’s faith as she supported her husband in his prophetic calling."

"Joseph Smith was careful to obey the command from the Lord that he not show the plates to others. As he translated the Book of Mormon, Joseph learned that special witnesses would be called to bear testimony of the ancient record written on metal plates. He was quite relieved when he was permitted to show the plates to several witnesses. Joseph kept the plates in a wooden box to keep them safe and hidden." 

There was a replica of this wooden box in the kitchen of the Hale home that had been weighted to help guests understand how heavy the gold plates were. Several written accounts indicate that the plates weighed between 50-60 pounds! They were heavy! The boys had a fun time taking turns attempting to lift the heavy box.

After touring through the Hale home, we walked just a little ways up the dirt road to the first home and farm of Joseph and Emma Smith.

"After living with Emma’s parents briefly, Joseph and Emma Smith moved onto this 13.5-acre (5.5-hectare) farm, which they later purchased from Emma’s father. The narrow piece of property extended from the Susquehanna River to the foothills of Oquago Mountain. It included a barn and a house that Emma’s brother Jesse had built.

This home became a place of revelation. Here Joseph continued to translate the Book of Mormon by the power of God, assisted by Emma, Oliver Cowdery, and a few other scribes. While living here, Joseph received several revelations that are now recorded in the Doctrine and Covenants.

Joseph and Emma’s first child, a son, was born here on June 15, 1828. He died the same day and was buried in the nearby McKune Cemetery.

The home burned down in 1919. A reconstructed home is built in its original location."

The sister missionaries who gave us a tour of these two homes were so sweet with the boys. They listened and answered all of their questions. When the boys started to get a little restless, they pulled out their iPads and brought up visuals to help the boys understand what they were telling us about.

On our way back to the welcome center, James found a fuzzy, little buddy.

Then we drove just a little ways down the street to a trail that would lead us to the Susquehanna River. 

"Today the Susquehanna River is quiet. On its bank, visitors can contemplate the first baptisms in this dispensation.

In the spring of 1829, though, the Susquehanna River bustled with activity, carrying hundreds of boats and rafts each week. Boatmen transported lumber and other goods around this bend of the river, on their way to markets as far south as Philadelphia. The river also powered sawmills, including one across the river owned by Emma Smith’s brothers Jesse and Ward Hale.

After John the Baptist conferred the Aaronic Priesthood on Joseph Smith and Oliver Cowdery, he commanded them to “go and be baptized” (Joseph Smith—History 1:70). They baptized each other that same day, probably waiting to perform the ordinance after boatmen had docked their vessels for the evening. Joseph baptized Oliver first, and then Oliver baptized Joseph."

We had a lovely picnic lunch and enjoyed the beautiful scenery.

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