Isaac Morley Farm and School House



About a mile down the road leading eastward out of Kirtland was located the Isaac Morley farm.  Isaac Morley was born on 11 March 1786 in Massachusetts.  He and his wife, Lucy, were among the first converts of the Church in Ohio in 1830.  He was called to be the first counselor to Edward Partridge who was the first bishop of the Church.  As a consequence he was ask to move to Missouri in 1831.  Brother Morley continued in Missouri until the saints were driven out in 1838.  He then founded Morley's settlement in 1839 about 25 miles south of Nauvoo.  In 1845, he went west with the saints.  Brigham Young put Brother Morley in charge of settling the Sanpete Valley in Utah.  He remained there as a faithful member of the Church until his death on 24 June 1865.


(Photo taken by Brian Kinghorn)

This is the current farm house owned by the LDS Church located on the Isaac Morley farm.  Before joining the Church and prior to Joseph Smith's arrival in February 1831, a number of families under the influence of Sidney Rigdon joined together to form a communal living order based upon Acts 2:44.  This order was known as "the family, "the common-stock family," or "the big family."  Lyman Wight was one of those who had been converted to Rigdon's religious views became part of this group.  Of this, he said: "In conformity to this covenant I moved the next February [1830] to Kirtland, into the house with Bro. Morley. We commenced our labors together with great peace and union. We were soon joined by eight other families. Our labors were united both in farming and mechanism, all of which was prosecuted with great vigor. We truly began to feel as if the millennium was close at hand" (Richard Lloyd Anderson, "The Impact of the First Preaching in Ohio,"  BYU Studies, Vol. 11, No. 3, p.484).

However, the experiment soon failed.  John Whitmer wrote: "The disciples had all things common, and were going to destruction very fast as to temporal things; for they considered from reading the scripture that what belonged to a brother, belonged to any of the brethren. Therefore they would take each other's clothes and other property and use it without leave which brought on confusion and disappointments, for they did not understand the scripture" (Book of John Whitmer, Chapter 2).  After Joseph Smith's arrival, the law of consecration began to be revealed (D&C 42).  As a result, " the family" was abandoned.  In the History of the Church, the following is reported: "The plan of 'common stock,' which had existed in what was called 'the family,' whose members generally had embraced the everlasting Gospel, was readily abandoned for the more perfect law of the Lord; and the false spirits were easily discerned and rejected by the light of revelation" (1:146).

During the years of 1831 and 32, most of the saints who gathered to Kirtland settled on the Isaac Morley farm.  Later they settled on the Frederick G. Williams farm.


(Photo taken by Bruce Satterfield)

On the hill behind the house was located a small school house at the time of Joseph Smith. The actual location of the school was up this path.




This is a etching located on the Isaac Morely farm close to where the small school house was located.  In June of 1831, the 4th conference of the Church was held in the school house.  It was during this meeting that the office of High Priest was restored.  The History of the Church leaves this account of this very important conference:

On the 3rd of June, the Elders from the various parts of the country where they were laboring, came in; and the conference before appointed, convened in Kirtland; and the Lord displayed His power to the most perfect satisfaction of the Saints. The man of sin was revealed, and the authority of the Melchizedek Priesthood was manifested and conferred for the first time upon several of the Elders. It was clearly evident that the Lord gave us power in proportion to the work to be done, and strength according to the race set before us, and grace and help as our needs required. Great harmony prevailed; several were ordained; faith was strengthened; and humility, so necessary for the blessing of God to follow prayer, characterized the Saints. (History of the Church, Vol.1, p.175)

Levi Hancock, who was in attendance left this account:

The Fourth of June came and we all met in a little string of buildings under the hill near Isaac Morley's in Kirtland, Geauga County, Ohio. Then we all went to a school house on the hill about one fourth of a mile ascending nearly all the way. The building was built of logs. It was filled with slab benches, Here the elders were seated and the meeting was opened as usual. Joseph Smith began to speak, he said that the kingdom of Christ that he spoke of that was like a grain of mustard seed was now before him and some should see it put forth its branches and the angels of heaven would some day come like birds to its branches just as the Saviour had said. Some of you shall live to see it come with great glory. Some of you must die for the testimony of this work and he looked at Lyman White and said to him, "You shall see the Lord and meet him near the corner of the house and laid his hands upon him and blessed him with the visions of heaven."  Joseph Smith then stepped out on the floor and said, "I now see God, and Jesus Christ at his right hand, let them kill me, I should not feel death as I am now."  Joseph put his hands on Harvey Whitlock and ordained him to the high priesthood [i.e., High Priest].  (Autobiography of Levi Hancock, typescript, BYU-S, p.32-34)

John Corrill wrote this account of the conference:

Previous to this there was a revelation received, requiring the Prophet to call the elders together, that they might receive an endowment [D&C 38]. This was done, and the meeting took place some time in June. About fifty elders met, which was about all the elders that then belonged to the church. The meeting was conducted by [Joseph] Smith. Some curious things took place. The same visionary and marvelous spirits, spoken of before, got hold of some elders; it threw one from his seat to the floor; it bound another, so that for some time he could not use his limbs nor speak; and some other curious effects were experienced, but, by a mighty exertion, in the name of the Lord, it was exposed and shown to be from an evil source. The Melchizedek Priesthood was then for the first time introduced, and conferred on several of the elders. In this chiefly consisted the endowment--it being a new order--and bestowed authority. However, some doubting took place among the elders, and considerable conversation was held on the subject. The elders not fairly understanding the nature of the endowments, it took some time to reconcile all their feelings. In a few days, however, a commandment was received for the elders to go to Missouri, two by two; no two were to travel in the track of the others, and they were to preach the gospel by the way. After a little delay we started. (History of the Mormons [1839], p.18)

Parley P. Pratt wrote of this conference in these words:

On the sixth of June, 1831, a general conference was convened at Kirtland, consisting of all the Elders, far and near, who could be got together. In this conference much instruction was given by President Smith, who spake in great power, as he was moved by the Holy Ghost; and the spirit of power and of testimony rested down upon the Elders in a marvelous manner. Here also were some strange manifestations of false spirits, which were immediately rebuked.

Several were then selected by revelation, through President Smith, and ordained to the High Priesthood after the order of the Son of God; which is after the order of Melchizedek. This was the first occasion in which this priesthood had been revealed and conferred upon the Elders in this dispensation, although the office of an Elder is the same in a certain degree, but not in the fulness. On this occasion I was ordained to this holy ordinance and calling by President Smith. (Parley P. Pratt, Autobiography of Parley P. Pratt, edited by his son, Parley P. Pratt [Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Co., 1985], 53.)

President Wilford Woodruff gave us this record of another important meeting that took place in this school house.

On Sunday night the Prophet called on all who held the Priesthood to gather into the little log school house they had there. It was a small house, perhaps 14 feet square. But it held the whole of the Priesthood of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints who were then in the town of Kirtland, and who had gathered together to go off in Zion's camp. That was the first time I ever saw Oliver Cowdery, or heard him speak; the first time I ever saw Brigham Young and Heber C. Kimball, and the two Pratts, and Orson Hyde and many others. There were no Apostles in the Church then except Joseph Smith and Oliver Cowdery. When we got together the Prophet called upon the Elders of Israel with him to bear testimony of this work. Those that I have named spoke, and a good many that I have not named, bore their testimonies. When they got through the Prophet said, "Brethren I have been very much edified and instructed in your testimonies here tonight, but I want to say to you before the Lord, that you know no more concerning the destinies of this Church and kingdom than a babe upon its mother's lap. You don't comprehend it." I was rather surprised. He said "it is only a little handful of Priesthood you see here tonight, but this Church will fill North and South America—it will fill the world." Among other things he said, "it will fill the Rocky Mountains. There will be tens of thousands of Latter-day Saints who will be gathered in the Rocky Mountains, and there they will open the door for the establishing of the Gospel among the Lamanites, who will receive the Gospel and their endowments and the blessings of God. This people will go into the Rocky Mountains; they will there build temples to the Most High. They will raise up a posterity there, and the Latter-day Saints who dwell in these mountains will stand in the flesh until the coming of the Son of Man. The Son of Man will come to them while in the Rocky Mountains."  (Conference Report, April 1898, p.57)