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Efforts halted
The declared site of a Latter Day Saint Temple, Joseph Smith dedicated the site in October 1838. However, efforts to build the temple were halted by the expulsion of the Latter Day Saints from Missouri.
The declared site of a Latter Day Saint Temple, Joseph Smith dedicated the site in October 1838. However, efforts to build the temple were halted by the expulsion of the Latter Day Saints from Missouri.
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Announcement 26 April 1838
Groundbreaking October 1838 by
Joseph Smith, Jr.

Valley of Adam-ondi-Ahman (the Grand River valley)

Panorama of Adam-ondi-Ahman

Adam-ondi-Ahman (sometimes clipped to Diahman) is a historic site along the east bluffs above the Grand River in Daviess County, Missouri. According to The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (LDS Church), it is the site where Adam and Eve lived after being expelled from the Garden of Eden and will be a gathering spot for a meeting of the priesthood leadership, including prophets of all ages and other righteous people, prior to the Second Coming of Jesus Christ.

It is the proposed site for a Latter Day Saint temple, although efforts to build a temple there were halted in the 19th century as a result of the 1838 Mormon War to evict the Mormons from Missouri. Adam-ondi-Ahman was a flash point in that confrontation.

After the Mormons were evicted, the site was renamed Cravensville. It was the site of a skirmish during the American Civil War on August 4, 1862, when Union troops attempted to stop Confederate reinforcements in the First Battle of Independence. Six Confederates were killed and 10 wounded. The Union forces had five wounded. [1]

Most of the site is now owned by the LDS Church and remains predominantly farmland.

Doctrine and Covenants reference

Adam-ondi-Ahman is the subject of a revelation recorded in the LDS edition of the Doctrine and Covenants, a book of scripture within the Latter Day Saint movement: "Spring Hill is named by the Lord Adam-ondi-Ahman, because, said he, it is the place where Adam shall come to visit his people, or the Ancient of Days shall sit, as spoken of by Daniel the prophet."[2]


In the 1830s, Mormons being forced out of Jackson County, Missouri settled just south of Daviess County in Caldwell County, Missouri in the settlement of Far West.

In February 1838, Lyman Wight built a home and established a ferry on the Grand River at a spot known as "Wight's Ferry."

That spring, Joseph Smith, Jr. visited the site. He proclaimed there were either two or three (depending on subsequent interpretations) altars built by Adam at the site. One altar called the "altar of prayer" was by Lyman's house on Tower Hill. It was described as "sixteen feet long, by nine or ten feet wide, having its greatest extent north and south. The height of the altar at each end was some two and a half feet, gradually rising higher to the center, which was between four and five feet high — the whole surface being crowning."[3] The other altar — called the "altar of sacrifice" — was said to be a mile to the north on top of Spring Hill.[4]

On May 19, 1838, Smith formally revealed his belief that Adam-ondi-Ahman was indeed the exiled Garden of Eden.[5] On June 25, 1838, at a conference in Wight's orchard, a Mormon settlement at Adam-ondi-Ahman was formally established. Within a few months its population grew to 1500.[6]

Non-Mormon settlers grew worried that the Latter Day Saints would seize political control of Daviess County. On August 6, 1838, a group of non-Mormons tried to prevent Latter Day Saint settlers from voting in the local elections at Gallatin, Missouri. The Mormons fought back and defeated the mob in a skirmish that came to be known as the Gallatin Election Day Battle. This was the opening skirmish in the Mormon War.

In the course of the conflict, non-Mormon vigilantes from neighboring counties came to Daviess and burned Mormon homes, which caused Mormon refugees to gather at Adam-ondi-Ahman for protection. Latter Day Saints responded to the attacks by leading their own forces from Caldwell County. Missouri Governor Lilburn Boggs reacted by issuing the Extermination Order, in which he called out 2500 militiamen and threatened to "exterminate" the Mormon community.

In October 1838, Joseph Smith, Brigham Young, Heber C. Kimball and other Latter Day Saint leaders gathered to dedicate the temple square on the highest point on the bluff.[7]

Smith, Wight and others surrendered on November 1, 1838 on charges of murder, arson, theft, rebellion, and treason.[8]. A preliminary court hearing was held November 12 to 29 in Richmond, Missouri, and Smith and Wight were transferred to the Liberty Jail in Liberty, Missouri.

On November 7, 1838, the Mormons were told they had 10 days to abandon the settlement, and they moved to Far West, Missouri.

On April 9, 1839, Smith was sent to the Daviess County Jail in Gallatin, where a grand jury indicted him. On April 15, following the granting of a change of venue, Smith was allowed to escape while en route to Boone County, Missouri a day after getting supplies at Adam-ondi-Ahman[9]

Most of the Latter Day Saints had left Missouri by early 1839. The refugees gathered in Illinois and later regrouped at the new Mormon center of Nauvoo. Although many Latter Day Saints were tried for their part in the war, no non-Mormon vigilantes were brought to trial.

Because the Latter Day Saints held their lands in Adam-ondi-Ahman by preemption, all of their rights and improvements were lost when they were forced to leave their homes. Their losses are recorded in a set of "Mormon Redress Petitions" collected and edited by Clark V. Johnson. Most of the land in Adam-ondi-Ahman was purchased by John Cravens, who renamed the town "Cravensville."

Today 3000 acres (12 km²) of Adam-ondi-Ahman is owned and maintained as a historic site by the LDS Church and remains largely undeveloped farmland.

Meaning of the name

According to the belief of some Latter Day Saints, the term Adam-ondi-Ahman is part of the Adamic language.[10] The name was first referenced in about 1832, in Doctrine and Covenants section 78, prior to being attached to a specific place. The name was also the title of a hymn that was popular in the early church.

The term Adam-ondi-Ahman has been speculatively translated as the "Valley of God, where Adam dwelt" (by Orson Pratt),[11] Adam-ondi-Ahman "the valley of God in which Adam blessed his children" (by John Corrill),[12] "Adam's grave" (by Community of Christ historian Heman C. Smith),[13] or "Adam with God," because elsewhere in the Doctrine and Covenants "Son Ahman" is said to refer to Jesus.[14]

Religious significance

According to Mormon teachings, the Garden of Eden was located in the vicinity of Independence, Missouri. After Adam and Eve were banished from the garden, they went to Adam-ondi-Ahman.

According to the Doctrine and Covenants, Adam met his children at the site three years before his death to bestow his blessing.[15] LDS Church leader Joseph Fielding Smith, Jr. has stated that before the Second Coming Adam will convene another meeting there to turn the government of the human family officially to Jesus Christ.[16]


  1. Stark, David (2004-03-06). "Deadly Skirmish in Daviess County". Daviess County Historical Society. 
  2. "Doctrine and Covenants 116".  (LDS Church edition). The naming of Adam-ondi-Ahman is also recorded in the History of the Reorganized Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints (now called the Community of Christ) in Volume 2, Chapter 9, page 153-54.
  3. "Geography at Adam-On-Diahman". The Absalom Collection. 
  4. The two altar concept was promoted by Alvin R. Dyer who has written much of the modern history of the site. However the three altar arrangement was recorded by Heber C. Kimball who wrote: "The Prophet Joseph called upon Brother Brigham, myself and others, saying, ‘Brethren, come, go along with me, and I will show you something.’ He led us a short distance to a place where were the ruins of three altars built of stone, one above the other, and one standing a little back of the other, like unto the pulpits in the Kirtland Temple, representing the order of three grades of Priesthood; ‘There,’ said Joseph, ‘is the place where Adam offered up sacrifice after he was cast out of the garden.’ The altar stood at the highest point of the bluff. I went and examined the place several times while I remained there."
  5. "Adam-ondi-Ahman". Selected Quotes and Instructional Pictures.  compiled by Bruce Satterfield, BYU-Idaho Professor of Religion
  6. Smith, Becky Cardon (2003). "Adam-Ondi-Ahman". The LDS Family Travel Guide. 
  7. Wells, Gary B.. "Adam-Ondi-Ahman". 
  8. Bentley, Joseph I.. "Joseph Smith Legal Trials". Light Planet. 
  9. Smith, Lucy Mack (1853). History of Joseph Smith by his Mother. Liverpool: Orson Pratt. ISBN 1570082677. 
  10. See, e.g., Orson Pratt, Journal of Discourses 2:342.
  11. Encyclopedia of Mormonism, Vol. 1, which cites Journal of Discourses 18:343
  12. Roberts, B.H. Comprehensive History of the Church, Vol. 1:421
  13. Smith, H.C. ed., Journal of History, Reorganized Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, Independence, MO: Herald House, 9:140
  14. "Doctrine and Covenants 78:20".  (LDS Church edition).
  15. "Doctrine and Covenants 107:53–56".  (LDS Church edition)
  16. 'Doctrines of Salvation', 3:13


  • Stephen C. LeSueur, The 1838 Mormon War in Missouri, University of Missouri Press, 1990.
  • Alexander L. Baugh, A Call to Arms: The 1838 Mormon Defense of Northern Missouri, BYU Studies, 2000.
  • Clark V. Johnson, Mormon Redress Petitions: Documents of the 1833-1838 Missouri Conflict, Religious Studies Center, BYU, 1992.
  • Robert J. Mathews, "Adam-ondi-Ahman" BYU Studies vol. 13, no. 1, p. 27 (1972)

External links

fi:Adam-ondi-Ahman pt:Adão-ondi-Amã