Thursday, July 15, 2010
My Amazing Day
It is over a two hour drive to Harmony so all the way down Matt taught us Church history. I thought I knew Church history but he was telling us stories I’ve never heard, and I can’t wait to research and learn more about them. There were some very interesting things I’ll share later. But back to yesterday. We arrived in Oakland, PA, which is what used to be Harmony and stood on the land that Joseph bought near his father-in-law and where Emma and Joseph lived while he translated the Book of Mormon. The house is gone, but you can still see what must have been foundation stones. We then went down the street a little to see where Emma’s parent’s home stood. Isaac Hale was a prominent man who owned a very large parcel of land. I had never realized before what prosperity she gave up to go against her parent’s wishes and marry Joseph. The Hale home was large, and the land fertile and beautiful.
Near the home sites is the cemetery where Emma’s parents are buried and Emma’s first child, Alvin. Behind Emma and Joseph’s home site is the Susquehanna River where Joseph and Oliver Cowdery prayed and John the Baptist appeared to restore the Aaronic priesthood and where they were baptized. The river is much larger than I imagined and flows gently. At the spot we were in the river has carved out an area in the shore to form a pool of water that doesn’t flow much. I waded into the water to find that the river bottom is all rocks—no sand or soil—and the water surprisingly warm.
Matt next took us to some homes most tourists never get to see. Historians have discovered where Josiah Stowell and Joseph Knight lived and their homes are still standing. Both men were very affluent and influential. You will remember that Joseph Knight hired Joseph to build a well and later Josiah Stowell hired Joseph to dig on his property for Spanish treasure. While working for Stowell, Joseph boarded with Isaac Hale and that is when the love story of Joseph and Emma began. That much of the story I knew and figured the three homes were near each other, but Stowell and Knight lived in Colesville which is about 30 miles away.
We next went to the county fairgrounds to see where the home once stood where Joseph and Emma were married. The home is long gone, but there is a metal historical marker posted by the NY preservation society that was put up when the home was still standing. It says that it is the place where the Mormon founder Joseph Smith married Emily [sic] Hale.
I wish you had all been here with me! But I hope you'll enjoy the pictures. To get the bigger feel of the place imagine being surrounded with small mountains covered in dense forest and everywhere you look shades of green with small wandering roads and old, old homes still lived in and cared for. Close your eyes and see the wide Susquehanna River gently snaking through the valley, and on it Joseph traveling between the Hale's estate and Colesville in a canoe to see Emma and to attend the school where she taught. (I love romantic stories!)