Kirtland is about twelve miles south of Lake Eire. The nearest port was to be found at Fairport and the harbor was important as both a point of passage for the early Mormon ‘gatherers’ who came from the religion’s home grounds in New York and for missionaries who sallied forth throughout the then civilized areas of North America. Two lighthouses originally lit the way for boats coming into the harbor off the lake - the main lighthouse being erected in 1825 as the port became an important transshipment point for the Eire Canal port of Buffalo. Joseph Smith, Jr., announced, in December 1830, that believers should gather to the Kirtland, Ohio. Original members were concentrated in three New York localities. So in three companies, they came west in the spring of 1831, through Buffalo and over the lake to Fairport - 67 from Colesville, near Binghamton, 80 from Fayette and another 50 from Manchester (both near Syracuse). As compared to future Mormon exoduses, this was a fairly easy journey, but still, the process of ‘gathering’ meant most everything people had was left behind. Property and goods sold for a pittance on short notice. The process would be repeated several times more in the future. A plaque was erected in 2003 to commemorate those who journeyed through Fairport and the role the town and port played in Mormon history. An exhibit further describing that history is found in the Fairport Museum.
John Johnson came from New Hampshire originally, though he and his newlywed wife, Elsa, lived for awhile in Pomfret, Vermont, a short distance away from Joseph Smith’s birthplace of Sharon. They came to Hiram, Ohio in 1818 establishing a prosperous farm and building this large home in 1829. Members of the Methodist church, the couple converted to the new Mormon movement in 1831 following a meeting with Smith in which he healed a rheumatic arm of Elsa’s. They invited Smith and his wife to come and live on their farm, which they did from September 1831 until the following September. The family of Sidney Rigdon also moved out to Hiram to help Smith in his efforts to produce a new inspired version of the Bible. Additionally, Smith wrote down many new revelations - 16, in all from here - and authorized the printing of the Book of Commandments, an early compilation of Mormon revelations. The room in which Smith and Rigdon worked is another in which a visitation was received from God and Jesus and your tour guide will attest to their faith in the events that they relate. Smith and his messages always served to inspire or enrage locals wherever he went throughout his life and here in Hiram, on March 24, 1832, a band of about 50 locals grabbed a sleeping Smith, along with Rigdon, and proceeded to beat and tar and feather the two of them.
The farm had been repurchased by the LDS church in 1956 and after restoration was dedicated in 2001. Furnishings are from the 1830 period with original fireplaces still intact.