EASTER SUNDAY: April 4, 2021
We’ve had another glorious week with Easter and General Conference! In many ways there is no way to share our experience here. It is something that is so individual that we encourage all to come and experience a taste for yourselves. This week the Elders cleared all the thick brush the south side of Tower Hill, leaving only the large trees so that it is possible to view the valley from the parking lot. Grass will be planted soon. Elder Kenison and Elder Dunford planted 14 fruit trees near the work center, and all interior walls are up at the duplex. Darrel had his first day of mowing to get ready for the Easter weekend.
Fun Facts: In the early years, AOA missionary couples were younger and brought young families with them. One family brought seven children. Six babies were born while their families were serving here through the years. Five were boys and one was a girl. Their names are Adam, Adam, Adam, Michael, Abel, and Eve. 😊
There are 42 ponds at AOA. The largest covers roughly 1¾ acres. The choirs of frogs practice continually! I never tire of the sound whether they are practicing or performing. There are also fish and many, and Elder K is anxious to verify that. Gratefully, he brought a fishing pole.
Wednesdays at AOA: The brethren work as usual. That is the day we help at the Seventh Day Adventist Center on a rotating basis. I get to go this next week. The sisters use Wednesday to clean, bake, do laundry, shop, study or whatever is needed to “catch-up.” May I mention how quickly one can clean a 900 square foot apartment with only two senior citizens living there? 😉 Two of the new sisters are avid quilters. They have challenged each of us to design a signature nine-square piece and then make enough to exchange with the other 13 sisters, so we will all have a memory quilt from here. That will be a Wednesday project. Luckily, I brought my sewing machine and have ordered my first ever “Jelly roll.” Who knew a jelly roll is a quilting term as well as a bakery item? Google “jelly roll” and you will come up with the Missouri Star Quilting Company. Hamilton, MO is about 30 minutes from here and it has over a dozen quilting shops. Those shops saved the town from financial ruin years ago. The shops are re-opening in May, and I plan to use one of my Wednesdays to check some out.
GETTING AQUAINTED: Each couple serving here has had an opportunity to formally share their life story with the group. It was a perfect activity for the Easter week. I am awed at the Savior’s goodness and Atonement. When we arrived, we sensed we were among the very valiant and elect and truly they are, but their stories vary greatly. Combined we have experienced every challenge of life. We have returned missionaries, those who have never served a mission prior to this and one who was a mission President. Some were first married civilly. Some have buried children, experienced infertility and adopted children. Some were impacted by abuse and divorce to include second and third marriages. We have two converts, one with a rather colorful past. Some have significant health challenges or family members with physical, mental, or emotional disabilities. Some are quite wealthy, while others have faced years of financial struggle. Most have inactive or wayward children or grandchildren. Some have traveled the world widely while others never left the town, they were born in. Yet here we are, equal in this opportunity of a lifetime because the Savior’s redeeming, empowering Atonement is real, faith is a sure anchor, agency and eternal principle and hope lights the road ahead. There is already a unity among us, regardless of the path that brought us here, that offers joy and a sense of belonging.
The highlight of the week for me was a re-creation of the events recorded during President Kimball’s first visit in the very spot they took place.
Afterwards, one of the Elders gave a guided tour of the early township of Diahman, established in this area in 1838. A team from BYU identified 27 archaeological sites during the summers of 1979, 1980, 1982, and 1984. The most important were marked by metal poles imbedded in concrete bases. We were privileged to see several of those markers. Darrel and returned the next day to experience it all once again.
Elder Dabb was our tour guide. Marker 12 is at the corner of town square.
A BIT OF HISTORY:
It is fascinating to see how the Lord carefully prepared the way for the saints to be here if only for a few months. Joseph Smith knew of Adam-ondi-Ahman in concept in March 1832 as recorded D&C 78. It is likely that Joseph learned that such a place existed while translating the revealed changes of the Old Testament in 1831. The hymn written about Adam-ondi-Ahman by W.W. Phelps was published in 1835. There was clearly some conceptual understanding, but no knowledge of where it was. During this same time, a government surveyor established a marker here on Oct. 1833, identifying it as the very center of the new Daviess County. This marker made it possible for a township to be legally established here. The stage was set!
As conflict drove the saints from Jackson and Clay counties, they began building homes at Far West and surrounding areas. The Prophet revealed that they needed to establish areas to the north and a scouting party was sent out in Feb. 1838. One of the men in the party was Lyman Wight. He was so impressed with this area that he purchased 40 acres with a cabin on the SW slope of Tower Hill. Lyman established a Ferry across the Grand River just to the north. He reported the beauty he found here to Joseph Smith.
The prophet came in May 1838 with some skilled surveyors to layout the townsite based on the government marker. On this visit it was revealed that this was area was Adam-ondi-Ahman as recorded in D&C 116. Joseph showed several people the remains of Father Adam’s altar. The 2-mile square settlement was called Diahman and soon became the most important and populated town in Daviess County. Within weeks cabins and a cobblestone road were built, a well dug, springs developed, and farmland cleared and planted on a preemption-rights basis. (The saints would develop the ground in good-faith and as soon as the government made it available for sale, they would have the first right to purchase it for $1.25 per acre.) The saints enjoyed the feelings of prosperity briefly as two blacksmith shops, a school, and a mercantile and mill sprung up. Brigham Young dedicated a temple site and life was good.
Soon unauthorized Missouri vigilantes engendered conflict. The saints were not allowed to vote in near-by Gallatin in August 1838, and a fight broke out. A short time later, the saints retaliated hoping a display of power would ward off the mob here in Daviess, County. Sadly, it only aggravated the already embroiled issue, and the Extermination Order was signed by Governor Boggs on Oct. 27, 1838. Militia men arrived at Diahman on Nov. 8, 1838 and the saints agreed to leave by November 20th. By Dec. 1st, Joseph was jailed in Liberty, MO, during the coldest winter on record in the area. Just as Adam and Eve were driven from the Garden of Eden, the saints were driven from Diahman, the Zion they thought they had found. Within four days of their departure, the government made the land available for sale. Those most responsible for the saints’ expulsion purchased the developed land that was likely worth $15-$20 per acre, for $1.25 per acre.
Joseph’s last visit here was in April 1939, when he along with others were taken from Liberty Jail to stand trial in Gallatin. The prisoners were allowed to visit Diahman and spend the night. After leaving here, they headed for Boon County on April 16th. During the trip they were allowed to escape from intoxicated officers and made their way to Quincy, Illinois to be with their families and the body of the saints.
There was a settlement called, Cravensville, here for a few years, but it dwindled and died when the railroad by passed them. The area returned to farm and grazing land until 1944 when a latter-day saint, Wilford C. Wood, purchased Tower Hill and 38 acres of Adam-ondi-Ahman and then sold it to the Church. Interest in this sacred land was rekindled and the Church has since purchased many acres here and nearby.
Just for the record, we had a tour of the circular, rotating squirrel cage jail that still stands in Gallatin. It was built with the intent to house Frank and Jesse James but was not completed soon enough to fulfill that hope. It is one of 18 ever built and one of three still standing. There are eight pie shaped cells on the main floor, but only one entrance or exit with a series of three locking doors. Once a cell has rotated past that opening, it is virtually impossible to get out. It even had to be rotated to allow access to food passed through the steel bars once a day.
Enjoy your week!
Our Love, Elder and Sister Kenison