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Plate 1 - Dairy Hill Horizontal

The golden-yellow leaves of the sugar maple begin their downward glide to the ground. Each tree forms a cover quilted by nature to capture the moisture of the oncoming winter. The constant chattering of the gray squirrels indicates the gathering—a time to prepare for the change of the seasons.

In this obscure spot in Vermont, in 1805, came a similar change of seasons. Golden maple leaves, yes, but much more. The breezes were blowing in a new awakening. The earth itself and all her inhabitants were about to enter a new season. It was not marked on the calendar or announced in the newspaper, but after centuries of silence from the heavens, when humanity claimed that the Lord had grown quiet, something was about to happen.

Thirty-year old Lucy Mack Smith was nearing her delivery of a baby boy just a few hundred yards from this line of sugar maples here on Dairy Hill. That baby was Joseph Smith, Jr. and he would be born the day after the longest night of darkness, the day when the light begins to return to the earth.

This photograph is available as a horizontal landscape (as shown) or as a vertical.
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Plate 1 - Sunset Grasses

I’m always exploring Nauvoo for emotional scenes—pictures that capture the pathos of those trying and wonderful years that were the glory of Nauvoo.

I was there in winter, shooting those kinds of pictures. I’d read scores of pioneer journals and was especially moved by the writing of Bathsheba Smith, who recounted her feelings about leaving Nauvoo:

“My last act in that precious spot was to tidy the rooms, sweep up the floor, and set the broom in its accustomed place behind the door. Then with emotions in my heart which I could not now pen and which I then strove with success to conceal, I gently closed the door and faced an unknown future, faced a new life, a greater destiny as I well knew, but I faced it with faith in God…”

How do you capture that emotion? I could feel a lump welling up in my throat as I thought about Bathsheba’s words.

It was cold and a bit windy as the sun began to set. I saw some tall grasses that began to be filled with the backlight of the setting sun (you can see those same grasses in Plate 2, Bootshop Sunset Winter). I took the Bootshop image then ran for the grasses before I lost the light. It was my last shot of the day.

I set the camera up on its accustomed spot on the tripod, carefully composed the grasses with that last remaining light and I took the shot. I walked away with Bathsheba Smith on my mind.

I think she would have been pleased.
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Plate 1 - Whitmer Home April 6

Anyone who has been inside the Peter and Mary Whitmer home in Fayette Township, Seneca County, New York knows that it doesn't look like this. Or does it?

I don't use flash or auxiliary lighting for my photos. I want everything to be as natural as possible. I saw there was some nice light spilling in from the east and west windows so I set up the camera on the tripod, set the aperture at F22 then shot this two-minute exposure. It's as if there was a fine brush of light that painted every detail in the room, revealing colors and textures that could not be perceived by the natural eye.

There is a powerful feeling in this main floor but it usually comes when you know the significance of where you are standing. In this very room The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints was formally organized on Tuesday, April 6, 1830. Here the sacrament was first administered in this dispensation. At least 15 revelations were received in this home. The voice of God was heard in the adjoining room. About one third of The Book of Mormon was translated in this home. The Three Witnesses received their vision here on the Whitmer Farm. The commission was given here to find the Twelve Apostles. Surely "out of small things proceedeth that which is great."
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Plate 2 - Bootshop Sunset Winter

I had been carefully studying Thomas Kane’s account of his visit to the abandoned city of Nauvoo in September 1846. His account is unlike any other. About 15,000 Latter-day Saints had left their homes and shops behind and headed west just months earlier. Kane recorded:

"No one met me there. I looked, and saw no one. I could hear no one move; though the quiet everywhere was such that I heard the flies buzz, and the water-ripples break against the shallow of the beach. I walked through the solitary streets. The town lay as in a dream, under some deadening spell of loneliness, from which I almost feared to wake it. For plainly it had not slept long.

"There was no grass growing up in the paved ways. Rains had not entirely washed away the prints of dusty footsteps. Yet I went about unchecked. I went into empty work-shops, rope walks and smithies. The spinner's wheel was idle; the carpenter had gone from his work-bench and shavings, his unfinished sash and casing. Fresh bark was in the tanners's vat, and the fresh-chopped light wood stood piled against the baker's oven.

"The blacksmith's shop was cold; but his coal heap and ladling pool and crooked water horn were all there, as if he had just gone off for a holiday. No work people anywhere looked to know my errand.

"If I went into the gardens, clinking the wicket-latch loudly after me, to pull the marigolds, heart's-ease and lady-slippers, and draw a drink with the water sodden well-bucket and its noisy chain; or, knocking off with my stick the tall heavyheaded dahlias and sunflowers, hunted over the beds for cucumbers and love-apples,--no one called out to me from any opened window, or dog sprang forward to bark."

I thought the only way to capture that description was to shoot a scene in winter, at sunset, with silhouetted trees and a building or two. I chose the humble little Ryser Boot Shop. It may have been one of the businesses Thomas Kane visited—with no reply from anyone. All had left. All were on the trail to the west. All could now only see these places, their beautiful Nauvoo in their memories.
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Plate 2 - Dairy Hill Vertical

The golden-yellow leaves of the sugar maple begin their downward glide to the ground. Each tree forms a cover quilted by nature to capture the moisture of the oncoming winter. The constant chattering of the gray squirrels indicates the gathering—a time to prepare for the change of the seasons.

In this obscure spot in Vermont, in 1805, came a similar change of seasons. Golden maple leaves, yes, but much more. The breezes were blowing in a new awakening. The earth itself and all her inhabitants were about to enter a new season. It was not marked on the calendar or announced in the newspaper, but after centuries of silence from the heavens, when humanity claimed that the Lord had grown quiet, something was about to happen.

Thirty-year old Lucy Mack Smith was nearing her delivery of a baby boy just a few hundred yards from this line of sugar maples here on Dairy Hill. That baby was Joseph Smith, Jr. and he would be born the day after the longest night of darkness, the day when the light begins to return to the earth.

This photograph is available as a vertical landscape (as shown) or as a horizontal.
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Plate 2 - Whitmer Home at Evening

I love this scene and I'll tell you why.

Joseph and Emma and Oliver moved into this small 20x30 foot cabin the early part of June 1829. The Whitmer's home was already full, but they made room for the great work of finishing the translation of The Book of Mormon.

Joseph was a new curiosity in this area of Seneca County, New York and therefore attracted numerous visitors. You can well imagine upon whom the most stress would fall in this very busy household: Mary Musselman Whitmer, the mother. She worked tirelessly trying to keep up with the added responsibilities but she was getting tired.

On one occasion she came out the back door of the home, heading for the barn to milk the cows. On her way there the Angel Moroni met her and talked with her, saying: "Blessed art thou Mary for the work which is going in your home has increased your toil. Therefore, the Lord sees fit to give you your own witness." Thereupon Moroni showed Mary the gold plates and let her touch them one by one. He then said, "If you hold out faithful to the end your reward is sure."

As far as we know, Mary was the first one to see the plates after Joseph Smith and became a powerful witness and supporter of the work.
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