THE MORMONS IN THE 1830s
The reported history of the Porter Farm Homestead began well before James Porter arrived in Missouri in 1834. For example, even today, a Mormon marker lies at the south end of Troost Lake, indicating the site where Joseph Smith and 11 of his followers of the Colesville branch of the Morman Church met and camped in August 1831. A log was laid for the first house and school as a foundation of Zion in Kaw township.
Some of the earliest settlers in Jackson County were Christian missionaries, including Methodists, Baptists, and Catholics who focused their efforts on conversion of Native Americans.
But in July of 1831, even before Porter arrived, Joseph Smith, Edward Partridge, W. W. Phelps, and several others arrived in Jackson County, Missouri. They were joined a week later by members of the Colesville, New York Church of Christ congregation. The congregation settled en masse in the western part of Kaw township, and began to construct a building intended to be both a church and a school.
That building became the first log schoolhouse in Jackson County. The building is no longer there, but a marker stands at Paseo Boulevard and Lake Avenue in Troost Park where it once stood.
Members of the church believed Jackson County, and specifically Independence, had been designated by "divine revelation" to be the place of Zion – the New Jerusalem. During Smith's visit the summer of 1831, he dedicated the Temple Lot in Independence, Missouri, on August 3rd for the building of a temple. He did not stay, but returned to Kirtland, Ohio, then the headquarters of what later became the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints.
It wasn't long, though, before other residents took violent exception to these "Mormons,", perhaps including the Methodist preacher, Reverend James Porter. Those antagonistic to these early settlers around Troost Lake were derogatorily called “Mormons” for their belief in The Book of Mormon. Adding fuel to the discord amongst these “missionaries” was the fact that the Mormons were anti-slavery in what became a slave state, and their intention to make Independence the "New Jerusalem" did not sit well with the others. James Porter owned slaves and was not likely a supporter of a continued Mormon presence within his newly acquired farmstead.
- More about the Mormon Marker
- Mormons in Missouri Generally: Atchison, Anne. "Place Names Of Five West Central Counties Of Missouri.