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In 1870 the stewardship association of the Church, known as the Order of Enoch, purchased over three thousand acres of land in southern Iowa as a place of gathering. Thin lands became the present day town of Lamoni, named for King Lamoni in the Book of Mormon.

The Church relocated here in 1881 from Plano, Illinois, and Joseph Smith III made Liberty Hall his home.

Joseph Smith III was only eleven years old when his father was murdered. After that experience, he wanted no part of the Restoration movement.

In 1856, Jason Briggs and Zenos Gurley visited him and invited him to be the President of the Church. His initial reaction was to reject their invitation strongly. After further reflection, he and his mother, Emma, attended the 1860 Conference in Amboy, Illinois, where he was presented to the people and unanimously accepted as the President of the Church.

Marietta Walker (the "Mother of Graceland") came forward as the first donor of land (20 acres). She had lived just to the east of the present campus. She looked from her farm house to a hill and envisioned a college upon it.

The Church's educational tradition continued with Graceland College, now University, dedicated in 1895. Tuition was to be "one dollar per week." with extra charges only in the musical and commerical departments. Board and room were to be available in homes of Lamoni for rates averaging about $2.50 per week.

The surveyor, George Barrett, engaged for plotting the college grounds had been fascinated by the lay of the land. Its "graceful" topography had prompted him to speak of it as "Graceland."

Frederick M. Smith, eldest son of Joseph and third President of the Church was the first graduate in 1898. He came over from the University of Iowa to complete his study at Graceland.

Today, Graceland University has over 2,300 students on its Lamoni and Independence campus

On November 12, 1895, the cornerstone for Graceland College was laid, and in 1897, January 1, the building was dedicated. College classes in the meantime had started in September 1895, and have continued to this date.