A Young Folks' History of the Church HTML version
The First Vision
At the time when Thomas Jefferson was president of the United States, there was born
among the Green Mountains of Vermont a boy who was to become the great prophet of
the last days. The hills and valleys of Vermont look beautiful in the summer, but at the
time here spoken of they were no doubt covered with snow, for it was the 23rd of
December, 1805, in the town of Sharon, Windsor county, that Joseph Smith first saw the
light of the world.
Joseph was named after his father, whose name was Joseph. His mother's maiden name
was Lucy Mack. Joseph had five brothers and three sisters whose names were Alvin,
Hyrum, (then Joseph), Samuel, William, Don Carlos, Sophronia, Catherine and Lucy; so
you see that there was a large family for the father and mother to take care of. Joseph's
parents were poor and had to work hard for a living, so when the boys were old enough
they had to help on the farm; this they willingly, did. For this reason Joseph did not go to
school much, but he learned to read, to write fairly well, and to work some examples in
arithmetic. Though Joseph did not get much of an education at school, yet he was a great
student; and then God became his teacher, so that before he died, as you will see, he
became one of the most learned men in the world.
When Joseph was ten years old they all moved from Vermont to Palmyra, in the western
part of the state of New York. Four years later they moved again to the small town of
Manchester, in Ontario, now Wayne County, New York.
While the family was living at Manchester there arose a great religious excitement all
through the country. The different religious sects held many meetings and tried to get
people to join them. Joseph was now in his fifteenth year and he also became interested,
as his parents had always taught him to believe in God and the Bible. Joseph thought he
would like to join the true church of Christ, but what troubled him was to know which of
all these sects was the true church. He could see that all of them could not be true, as God
surely would not have a great many churches, one striving against the other; also, no
doubt, he had read in the Bible that there was but "one Lord, one faith, one baptism," etc.,
which the Lord accepted. Joseph went first to one meeting, then to another. His mother
and some of his brothers and sisters had joined the Presbyterians, but Joseph could not
make up his mind what to do.
But there is a way by which anyone may find out which is the true church and therefore
which to join, and every boy and girl that reads this book should remember it. It is this:
Ask God. Joseph did not know this until one day while reading in his Testament he came
to the fifth verse in the first chapter of James, which reads as follows:
"If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God, that giveth to all men liberally and
upbraideth not; and it shall be given him."
This was just the thing. God had surely led him to read that verse. Joseph certainly lacked
wisdom, and here was a way to find out what he wanted to know about the sects. The
Lord would tell him. All he had to do was to ask. How simple it was!
On a beautiful morning in the spring of the year 1820, Joseph decided to ask the Lord for
wisdom. He went out into a grove near his father's house, and after looking around to
make sure that he was alone, he kneeled down on the grass under the trees and began to