Joseph Smith Jr., prophet, founder of the Mormon Church, and translator of the Book of Mormon, was martyred. In 1844, when he was 38, Joseph Smith was killed by a mob. He died for his beliefs. At the site of his first home there is now a monument to honor him.
The monument is a forty-ton, thirty-eight and a half-foot granite shaft. It is thirty-eight and a half feet tall to commemorate each year of Joseph Smith’s life. The monument stone was quarried in Barre, Vermont, and the entire monument is carved from one granite block. This monument is one of the largest polished shafts of granite in the world. When the monument was completed, it was, in fact, the largest spire cut from a single unblemished stone in America. The memorial reflects what the Prophet Joseph Smith said of himself,
“I am like a huge, rough stone rolling down from a high mountain; and the only polishing I get is when some corner gets rubbed off by coming in contact with something else…thus I will become a smooth and polished shaft in the quiver of the Almighty.”1
For many members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints this is a fitting description of Joseph Smith’s life. He was a young farm boy, from the wilderness, who had little education and who was poor, but because he followed God’s commandments and obeyed God’s will, he brought Christ’s Church to the earth again. The doctrines of the Church are a restoration of the true doctrines of old.
The memorial was built to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the birth of Joseph Smith. A ceremony and dedication were held in 1905, when the memorial was completed. The monument is situated upon a large foundation rock and on that rock is inscribed the scripture, “If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God, that giveth to all men liberally, and upbraideth not; and it shall be given him.”2 This scripture was what inspired Joseph Smith as a young boy of only fourteen to go to the woods to pray and ask Heavenly Father which church he should join. What followed was the first vision and the beginning of the restoration of Christ’s Church as described in the New Testament.
Near the memorial is also a visitor’s center run by the Church where more can be learned about Joseph Smith Jr. The visitor’s center houses possessions of the Smith family, paintings and sculptures. Visitors can also see a movie about the life of Joseph Smith. The hearthstone from the cabin Joseph was born in is also on display in the visitor’s center. The cabin’s original front step is displayed by a bench near the memorial approximately where the original home stood. There is no admission charge for any of these sites. The visitor’s center and memorial are on a 360-acre site owned by the Mormon Church. Visitors are allowed to follow walking trails throughout the site. During the summer the grounds are beautifully landscaped with flowers. In the winter thousands of lights are put up to celebrate Christmas, and a live nativity scene is presented each year.