At ‘This Place in History’ last week, we visited Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints prophet Joseph Smith’s birthplace in Sharon, Vermont with Executive Director of the Vermont Historical Society Steve Perkins. This week, Elder David and Sister Karen Fuhriman tell us about the monument erected in 1905.
“Joseph F. Smith was then our prophet, and he commissioned a man by the name of Junius Wells. He came out here and was able in 1905 to acquire the farm. He was aware of the quarry in Barre, Vermont. It’s now called Rock of Ages. Junius went up there and he said that he personally selected the granite. How you do that, I do not know,” said Elder Fuhriman.
“They were able to offload the monument off the rail in Royalton, about five and a half miles from here. It took seven weeks to move all five pieces. The base is made up of four pieces of granite. They got those up first. The obelisk was the last piece to come up the hill, It’s the heaviest; it weighs 40 tons. They had 11 teams of horses. They couldn’t move it up Dairy Hill, so they brought in oxen. They couldn’t get that to work, so they finally ended up using block and tackle. They attached that to a tree, to the front of the wagon at each side. The oxen would pull backward with the block and tackle; the horses pulled forward. It took 33 days alone to get the obelisk up the hill. When Junius finished, he said it looked like they’d been through a storm because they’d uprooted so many trees using that block and tackle technique,” explained Elder Fuhriman.
“It’s a miracle. There were all kinds of wonderful things that happened. Buttons Bog delayed them for awhile, but Junius with his faith prayed that something would happen. A storm came in and froze the bog, so they were able to move it the next morning. Great Vermonters helped him. We don’t know their names, but that’s who helped him. Junius was the only one here from Utah. To make progress all the way up, it was all Vermonters that did it and it’s wonderful. It was a great story. It weighs 100 tons. It hasn’t moved in the last 112 years. It’s still there.”
“The obelisk is a solid piece of granite. It’s 38 1/2 feet tall, which represents a foot for every year of the prophet Joseph’s life; that’s really the only symbolism in the monument. Lots of people come here. His birth house was actually where that flower garden is to the left of the walkway and that’s the size of it, too. It was very small.”
“We have about 80 thousand visitors every year. A lot of those are in December when we light this place up. We serve hot apple cider and cookies. It’s open 365 days of the year. In the Summer, it’s open 9 AM to 7 PM. The grounds are actually open until about 10 PM. Then during the Winter, it’s open 9 AM until it closes at 5 PM, starting November 1st. During December, it’s open 9 AM to 9 PM for the lights and it is really beautiful,” concluded Elder Fuhriman.
Joseph Smith, founder of a religion. Born right here at ‘This Place in History’!
For more from our ‘This Place in History’ series, click here.
To view a map of Vermont’s roadside historical markers, click here.