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At age 14, Joseph Smith felt a great desire to know which church to join. When reading the Bible, he came across James 1:5 -- "If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God." After great reflection, Joseph decided to do as James directed. On a beautiful spring morning in 1820, he went to a nearby grove of trees to pray. In response to his prayer, God the Father and Jesus Christ appeared to Joseph and directed him to join no church that was then established, but rather to wait for the restoration of Christ's church.

Joseph Smith's family settled here in 1816, and the hill Cumorah, from which came the gold plates of the Book of Mormon,.is nearby. Many events in early Church history occurred in this vicinity, including Joseph Smith's first vision, and also the visits of the angel Moroni leading to the translation and publication of the Book of Mormon in Palmyra.

In the early spring of 1820, Joseph Smith Jr., sought the Lord in prayer and experienced the First Vision, in a grove of trees near their home, and three years later, on the evening of September 21-22, 1823, the Angel Moroni visited him in the log cabin and gave him instructions about the coming forth of the Book of Mormon. The hill Cumorah where Joseph first viewed the plates and received annual visits from Moroni, is about three miles to the southeast on Canandaigua Road.

From 1822 to 1826 the Smiths built a frame house in Manchester; and in January 1827 Joseph and his new bride, Emma Hale Smith, came to that home to work on the farm. Attempts to steal the gold plates required their being concealed both under the hearthstone of the house and in the cooper's house.
The Book of Mormon was printed by Egbert B. Grandin in his Palmyra Bookstore, which Martin Harris's mortgaged farm guaranteeing that the printing costs would be met. With the organization of the church on April 6, 1830, at Fayette, the Manchester/Palmyra area was identified as on of three branches.