Religious Records: Researching Latter-day Saints
2/26/2013
The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is an international church today, but it was born and raised in the United States. Learn about founder Joseph Smith Jr., a New Yorker, and how many Mormons eventually found their way to Utah and beyond.
The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (LDS) is an international church today, but it was born and raised in the United States. Founder Joseph Smith Jr. was a rural New Yorker who felt divinely authorized to restore a lost version of Christianity. He founded the LDS church in 1830, the same year he published the Book of Mormon, a scriptural text that gave Latter-day Saints the nickname Mormons.
 
The faith spread quickly. Under Smith’s leadership, converts gathered and migrated successively further West to Kirtland, Ohio (1831-1838); Jackson, Clay and Caldwell counties, Mo. (1831-1838); and Nauvoo, Ill. (1839-1846). After religious tensions led to Smith’s murder in 1844, Brigham Young led a group of adherents to the Utah wilderness. From there, settlers fanned out through the Intermountain West and into Mexico and Canada.