As Latter-day Saints gathered to dedicate the Kirtland Temple in 1836, they sang “Adam-ondi-Ahman,” a hymn composed by William W. Phelps and included in the newly published Latter-day Saint hymnal. The lyrics celebrated teachings from Joseph Smith’s revelations about a place called Adam-ondi-Ahman, where Adam bestowed his last blessing upon his posterity. The hymn also looked forward to the Savior’s Second Coming, when Adam-ondi-Ahman would be restored to its former beauty and glory.
Two years later, while searching for lands the Saints could settle in Daviess County, Missouri, Joseph Smith and a group of Church leaders found a beautiful spot near the Grand River with abundant water, wild game, and grass-covered prairies. Speaking of a prominent knoll in the area called Spring Hill, the Lord in a revelation explained that He had named it “Adam-ondi-Ahman” because “it is the place where Adam shall come to visit his people.”
The Saints rejoiced at this news, and soon families began moving to the area. They patterned their settlement after the plat of Zion (Joseph Smith’s urban plan for Independence, Missouri) and identified a location for a temple. Leaders organized the Adam-ondi-Ahman Stake in 1838, one of the first in the Church. As many as two hundred homes were built, but the settlement at Adam-ondi-Ahman lasted only a few months. Violence soon erupted between the Latter-day Saints and other Missourians in the fall of 1838, and the Saints at Adam-ondi-Ahman were forced to abandon their homes.