Settled by members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in 1836, Far West became the commercial and ecclesiastical center of the Church, as well as the county seat. As members of the Church continued to gather in Far West and surrounding towns, local Missourians began to fear the growing population and its influence. Differences in religion and political views and many other factors led to discord between the two groups. Local mobs began harassing outlying Latter-day Saint settlements, forcing the Saints to consolidate into Far West.
In October 1838 a Missouri army surrounded Far West. At the end of three days, the Prophet Joseph Smith and other Church leaders agreed to meet with militia leaders outside the city. However, instead of conducting talks, the militia leaders arrested and sentenced Joseph and the others to death by a firing squad. Brigadier General Alexander Doniphan refused the order, stating that it was illegal. Although their lives were saved at this time, Joseph and the other leaders were unjustly incarcerated for five months, suffering horrible conditions.
While the Church leaders were in jail, mobs continued to harass the Saints, eventually driving them out of the state despite an early winter. Church leaders Brigham Young, Heber C. Kimball, and John Taylor led 5,000 suffering Saints across Missouri into Illinois.
There were good times at Far West as well. While there, Joseph Smith received divine communications, recorded in Doctrine and Covenants section 115, that revealed that the Church's name should be The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Also revealed was the system for tithing Church members and the instruction that a temple should be built at Far West.
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