Rick Bennett went on a walking tour of Independence, MO with Matthew Turner. They found 14 Mormon historical markers ranging from the first landowner in Independence (Jacob Flournoy) to Governor Boggs’ now torn-down house. I’ll show you where some of the most tumultuous places were in Independence as we tour sites identified by the Missouri-Mormon Frontier Foundation.  Check out our conversation….

Temple Lot

GT  02:30  So it was surprising, because I think it took about an hour and a half to do this.  Although me and my friend, Matthew Turner, if I can get my slide to advance here, there he is. There’s Matthew Turner. He was my buddy, as we went through this. He’s a good friend that lives there in Kansas, and also a Mormon history geek, as well. So one of the things about this tour is you’re basically looking all over for these little plaques in the sidewalk. So, Matthew is standing, basically, at his feet, you can see this plaque here, where Joseph Smith and other Mormon leaders dedicated the temple lot. So, on the white building here, on the top right, you can see, is the Temple Lot Church, across the street from the Community of Christ Temple. And, of course, just on the left side of Matt’s head here, you can see the stone church, which was the first RLDS church that was– actually, I think, if I remember right, I think it was the first church in Missouri. And that was overseen by Joseph Smith, III. 

GT  03:55  We could almost just do a presentation on that building because it’s such a beautiful building inside.  But, my focus here today is to kind of hit these 14 stops. It’s a nice walking tour, and even in September, Missouri can get pretty hot. I remember Matthew. I was [asking,] “Why are you wearing a long-sleeved shirt?” And he’s a good person trying not to get skin cancer. So, he was dressed well, even though it was pretty warm.

GT  04:31  Anyway, so the temple lot, of course, that’s where the [Temple Lot] Church was going to try to build the first of 24 temples. And in the 1930s, you can see here there’s a picture on the right, they actually broke ground and dug out this this hill and you can see some of the footings they put in there to try to put in the temple. And so this is the ground that was dedicated by Joseph Smith on August 13, 1831. The church had purchased it from Jonas Flournoy, and we’ll talk about him in just a moment. So, this was really the first gathering place for for the church, and I’m just going to call it church, because at this point, there’s no RLDS Church, there’s no LDS Church, it was actually the Church of Christ back in 1831. And so we were all together in one big happy family.

GT  05:46  This nice black and white photo here on the right, I think is really cool. I love the tractor. You can see this was built earlier. They started building this just before the Depression hit. And then, of course, the Great Depression hit, and they couldn’t finish it. So, it sat just as an ugly hole for a long while, well, probably a couple of decades. President Harry Truman is from Independence.  You can see that on the left side with this little green photograph, you can the hill there. The City of Independence offered to fill in the hole, because the Temple Lot Church just didn’t have the money to fill it in. And they didn’t want Harry Truman, when he came home from being President of the United States, to come home and see this ugly eyesore, because it looked terrible. And so, the city offered to fill in the hole. And that’s what we have now.

Flournoy Home

GT  07:50  Now, the next picture here, when the Saints came to Independence, land was owned by John Jacob Flournoy, and this was his actual home. And it’s funny because it’s both Jacob and Jones, I’ve heard both. I probably should have put John’s on there. Jones Flournoy lived in a small brick house. This actually has been moved. It’s not far from the original location. We’ll find out where the original location is now. But this is a Community of Christ historic site there. It’s, literally, across the street from the Temple Lot Church. Jones Flournoy had just purchased this, probably a week before the Saints came, and then he ended up selling it to the Saints.  He made a small profit, not a big profit out of it. So, this was what’s known as the Flournoy House. I think my shed is bigger than this house. It’s just a tiny, tiny house. But you know, this was frontier Missouri back then. And so Bishop Edward Partridge purchased this on behalf of the church, and the 63 acres, which includes land where both the Community of Christ Temple is and the LDS Visitor Center.

GT  09:26  So, the Temple Lot Church just has a small portion of the temple lot.  But the Community of Christ and the LDS Church own other portions of the temple lot.  So, it’s actually really huge. Originally, Joseph had planned on 24 temples in Independence.  And, actually, he had planned that for Kirtland, as well. But they never even got the original one built and they’ve made a couple of attempts, now. But, anyway, so this was the man that they purchased the land from in.  It’s directly across the street from the temple lot. Next door, you can see, kind of, behind the tree here is the Community of Christ Temple.

Public Square

12:21  The public square, we mentioned this earlier. This is where Bishop Edward Partridge and Charles Allen were tarred and feathered, right here on July 20, 1833. It’s funny because it’s now the Jackson County Courthouse. And so it, also, has some other significance not related to Mormonism. But, this was the public square. There were escalating tensions between the Mormons and Missouri settlers. Sidney Rigdon preached here from the courthouse steps in 1832. The Mormon leaders were arrested and subsequently appeared in the courtroom here. And the funny thing is, it’s a courtroom now. I think I have some more pictures. Oh, I didn’t put the pictures in. But, yeah, it’s a big courthouse now. And so, it has continued on with that function. With Harry Truman coming from Independence, Missouri. A lot of these sites have significance both to Mormons, as well as Harry Truman. And so, I thought I had put in the more pictures there, but I guess it didn’t.

Log Courthouse

GT  17:44  The log courthouse, this one’s kind of a dual site. In the fact that [building,] not only does it have Mormon significance, but it’s got Harry Truman significance. So this was the first Jackson County Courthouse. It was built in 1827 by slave labor. The county built the new brick courthouse on the public square in 1830. Sidney Gilbert purchased the building and vacated the building.  [He purchased it] for $371. It’s amazing how prices have changed. It was the home of the Gilbert family, including Mary Elizabeth Rollins. She was one of the girls–I think I called her Lightner. But her maiden name was Rollins. But she was, also, one of the girls that helped gather up the Book of Commandments, I believe. So in November of 1832, Sidney Gilbert relocated the Church store to the lot 51. But his family continued to reside in the former log courthouse. And it was moved here in 1916 for preservation purposes.

Independence Jail

GT  21:52  This is the Jail/Firehouse Museum. You can see it looks like a firehouse with the big doors there. It’s now a museum by the National Park Service. But this was the original location of the jail that later became a firehouse. And now it’s a museum. It’s right, just kitty-corner across from the Noland house, that we were just looking at.  So, it wasn’t far too go from the house arrest to the jail there.  This is the plaque for that firehouse. It was the 1827 county jail. And you can see this little cabin, basically, that has an outside stairway and an upper room.  It was the only way to enter the structure.

GT  22:48  Prominent Mormons Sidney Gilbert, William McClellan, John Corrill, & Isaac Morley were all jailed in the lower dungeon. If you’ve seen the Liberty jail, these are very similar looking structures. And so, basically, it served as a dungeon in November of 1833, when Mormon leaders were jailed there. A decade later, Orrin Porter Rockwell was held in the second jail built on the site. And it’s the present building of the fire station where it serves as the Truman Home Ticket Office, as we saw on the last slide. So, Church leaders were arrested following a battle between Christian Whitmer’s cornfield in the Kaw Township, and so that’s basically where they were jailed. So, it’s kind of interesting to see how it looked, then, and how it looks now.  It’s, obviously, quite different. But anyway, that’s kind of fun.

Boggs House

24:46  And then we’re going to conclude our tour with the Boggs home. I confess that it made me happy to know that the Boggs home was torn down. It’s just an empty field or empty hill here now. But you can see there where the plaque is. That’s what they think it looked like. Of course, Governor Boggs issued the 1838 Extermination Order. And I didn’t realize, when he was governor, how deep his roots were to Independence. And so this is also the house where Porter Rockwell was accused of the assassination attempt of Governor Boggs. As you know, with the Extermination Order, over 5000 Mormons were expelled from the state of Missouri.

Have you been to Independence and/or done the walking tour? What do you make of the trouble in between 1831-33 in Missouri? Do you have thoughts on Gov Boggs?