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vvcarpio Feb 23, 2011 2:24 PM

Joseph Smith Family Farm in Palmyra, NY
While in the Finger Lakes region of upstate New York, my wife and I looked for local attractions to visit. The day was too windy for landscape photography so when we learned that the spot where Jesus appeared to Joseph Smith, Jr. -- founder of the Mormon religion -- was nearby, along with a farm and antique homes as part of a museum, we went to the Joseph Smith Family Farm in Palmyra, New York.

Our tour guide wore a dress shirt and tie, slacks, and a tan overcoat. He invited us inside what is called the “Frame Home” and began telling the story right away.

The Frame Home was the second house that Joseph Smith, Jr. lived in. The first house, just a few paces away and also part of the museum, was known as the “Log Home”. Joseph Smith’s family moved to Palmyra, New York from Vermont in 1816. Joseph Smith, Jr. was 8 years old at the time.

As a young child, Joseph wanted to know what Christian church to join. At age 14, after having read, “If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God,” in James 1:5, he walked into a grove of trees beside their farm and prayed. There he saw above the sun a bright light which he knew to be Jesus. In response to his prayer, Jesus and God the Father told Joseph to join no church and instead wait for direction in the restoration of Christ’s Church.

Four years later, at age 18, an angel appeared to Joseph in the upstairs bedroom of the Log Home. The angel, Moroni, once lived in the Americas in A.D. 421. As the last survivor of his civilization, Moroni buried golden plates that recorded his people’s history. Moroni returned as an angel to deliver the golden plates to Joseph, fulfilling the prophecy told upon Joseph at the grove of trees. Joseph translated the contents of the golden plates and the manuscript he wrote became known as, “The Book of Mormon: Another Testament of Jesus Christ.”

Before the tour began, I asked my wife if she had bills that we can make a donation. I thought it was only fair since we’d be taking pictures of a historic place that they maintained for free. But the guide didn’t give us time for that. At the tour’s end, he simply said he’d now head over to the Frame House and we’re free to take all the pictures we want. So in lieu of a donation, as I often do in other places we visit, I offered to share the pictures we took should the museum find them useful.

“You mean, we can use your pictures?” the man asked.

“Yes,” I said. “If you like them.”

“And make you famous?” he asked, a smile on his face.

“That’s not the intent,” I said. “But, sure,” I added, “why not?”

He said goodbye and after a moment’s pause added, “Maybe we’ll see you again.”

It was then I remembered that when I was a young child, my family avoided Mormons. They came to our neighborhood knocking on people’s doors hoping to spread their religion. It wasn’t so much as we were annoyed by them -- they were well-mannered and presentably dressed, role models if there ever were such -- but we were already established spiritually and saying “no” to guests -- foreigners at that -- felt terribly awkward especially when you’re raised in a tradition of always-say-yes hospitality.

Yet here we were walking into the lair of Mormons. For all we knew we could have been cornered. We could have been pressured to convert. We could have been told we were lost and they knew the way.

But none of that happened. Instead we were taken back in time at a leisurely pace with the man showing off neatly arranged artifacts of the period and the renovators’ skills in rebuilding the antique homes, his pride matching if not exceeding any museum curator’s we’ve met in the past. The museum was free and walk-ins were welcome. It
was fun and, in my view, established purely for educational purposes. The man was there to teach history and not, as far as I could tell, sell his faith.

Still, if you do visit, you might find yourself wanting to become a member especially upon witnessing the man’s emotional retelling of the Church’s history. Gaining converts may not be the museum’s intent, but should a visitor express a desire to do so on the spot, I'm sure the Church’s response may well turn out to be similar to mine -- “Sure, why not?”

#1) The Frame Home.

#2) Inside the Frame Home.

#3) The Log Home.

#4) Inside the Log Home.

#5) The Sacred Grove where Joseph Smith, Jr. prayed.

Thank you for looking. C&C welcome.

bluenose Feb 23, 2011 4:45 PM

Wonderful pictures (I do like how you capture the direct sun and maintain the exposure in the rest of the photograph). The story behind the property and the story about your visit add greatly.


banksy Feb 23, 2011 5:38 PM

Beautiful photos and well matched with the story. Life was certainly simple then.

SharpShotGal Feb 23, 2011 10:03 PM

Please take heed they are not bad people!
I my self can tell you that I go to the church ...
They teach a lot of good home values they do not have many wives that is something a lot of guys think wow I get a different one any time... well tuff luck .. they had many wives but why to build the church up and some of the extra women were wives that had husbands that had passed on when coming over land... If you look it was a Lucy Bigelow, Evans and other women that help put a stop to that issue! They found out the true meaning of Love and Marriage of course...

As for angels yes they are real I seen one my self when I was younger in the LDS church one Christmas as well I have seen the Star of Bethlehem 3 times was woken by some thing
when I looked out side and be hold the east star was shining so bright ......

I have dreams just like Brigham Young did ,as well they come true and are always telling me of events that are to happen to my life too! I have felt some one sit with me hold me and all that!

You have to admit they do have a lot of nice temples that's the only thing I have not done yet to do so one has to give my 10% once I do I can go ... My son says but mom they are a cult.. I say if you want to put it that way every Religion is a cult if you are following them.. I feel we all are place here on earth to love one another as neighbours not to kill each other and to put one down is a killing of ones generous loving spirit ..... Its was feeling I got when I went to the church one day ... instead of sitting and listening to others preach you can go up and tell your own Testimony of how the lord has affected your life personally! I have yet to tell the whole church of mine I am working on that....
They are just another Church that has their way to give and serve in this world we live in today!

Thanks for sharing the shots they are great lovely to see that some one cares to share such things.. Perhaps some one can now go back and do something on the Salem Witches as well for I feel they are the ones done wrong to as well ... and they too were done by a group that called them selves Christians!

Love the Spinning wheel its called a
walk about... and the butter churn... and how the herbs were hung! Thank you for sharing this VVCARPIO!

PS whom is standing in the first shot off to the left side of the build as I look at it? It does give the shot a feeling!

Pss I shared this with many on Face book! I hope you do not mind!

vvcarpio Feb 24, 2011 8:14 AM

Thank you all, bluenose, banksy, SharpShotGal.

bluenose, it was very windy. The trees, especially those sticking up above the horizon, were heavily ghosted when I processed my shots as HDR. To remove the tree-ghosting, I cut out the top of one shot and tried to blend it into my HDR edit. I'm glad you liked it.

banksy, yes, they had a lot of cool gadgets all made of wood.

SharpShotGal, I belong to a minority Christian religion (though we embrace all faiths) so we, too, at least according to our elders (I have not experienced any) were ridiculed by members of the mainstream ones. Thank you for your thoughts and comments.

The person beside the Frame Home in #1 is my son. He was getting cold from the wind so I told him to stand there where there was no wind. I knew he would be standing exactly where I will be taking pictures of but thought so what. I'm glad you liked it.

#6) I think this is the "walk about" that SharpShotGal pointed out. My wife took this picture.

#7) Our guide.

EDIT: I forgot to add, no, I don't mind sharing the pictures with your friends, SharpShotGal. Maybe you'll make me famous after all :).

ac.smith Feb 24, 2011 10:17 AM

Great photos and as always your accompanying narrative is great as well. Together they always give me a feeling of being there.

A. C.

SharpShotGal Feb 24, 2011 12:36 PM

Yes they call it that for one stood rather than sat when spinning and if one got it going good enough it the wheel its self would and could walk the room other wise it was the person that stood and walked rather than Sit! Great shots...

Well at least they all can check ya out on Steves... some thing bound to happen somewhere along the way!

Ps the bed room looks so simple to my own overly filled room.

zombz Feb 24, 2011 1:00 PM

palmyra is about a 45min drive from me out here in wolcott ny lol but great pics

Ordo Feb 24, 2011 1:26 PM

Good story. Great picks. Very natural looking, which is so difficult to achieve.

vvcarpio Feb 25, 2011 7:52 AM

Thank you, A.C., SharpShotGal, zombz, Ordo.

zombz, there's plenty to shoot there. We planned on going to Watkins Glen -- one website ranks it the most popular waterfalls in NY -- but snow (more like blizzard) the following day prevented us from doing so.

#8) Barns near the Frame Home. The Frame Home is actually fully covered by the barn on the left.

Soupcreek Feb 26, 2011 2:12 AM

I don't know which I am more impressed with, the beautiful photos, or the accuracy with which you related the history told there. I really like the picture of the outside of the log home, and also the one of the Sacred Grove. Most pictures of the Sacred Grove published by the Church are taken in the spring when things are greener (That's the time of year when Joseph went there to pray and had the vision). I really like your shot.
I am also a member of the Mormon faith and that place does hold great meaning. I have wanted to visit, but haven't ever had the opportunity. Your pictures are beautiful and they bring me a little closer. Thanks for sharing them.
I was once one of those young missionaries knocking doors. It is interesting to hear how others view our missionary efforts. Thanks for relating your experiences there, and again, great pictures.

musket Feb 26, 2011 4:01 AM

Not just good photo's but journalistic skill as well..Well done

vvcarpio Feb 26, 2011 7:31 AM

Thank you, Ryan, musket.

#9) Unlike the Frame Home, which is 80% original structure, the Log Home is a full restoration built by builders who specialize in reconstructing antique homes using the same tools -- no power tools -- of the period. The Log Home is restored in its original spot beside the Sacred Grove. This is the upstairs bedroom where the angel appeared to Joseph Smith, Jr. My wife took this picture.

#10) Window in the upstairs bedroom. My wife took this picture.

SharpShotGal Feb 27, 2011 4:11 PM

Those are great VVcarpio, tell the wife well done... I love them greatly!

vvcarpio Feb 28, 2011 9:13 AM

Thank you, SharpShotGal. Your comments are greatly appreciated.

#11) Upstairs room in the Frame Home. My wife took this picture.

#12) Downstairs bedroom in the Log Home. The "sitting area" outside the bedroom (foreground) was where Joseph Smith, Jr. held meetings when he was translating the golden plates. My wife took this picture.

#13) Visitor Center at the Joseph Smith Family Farm. The farm, the Log Home, and Frame Home are at the back of the Visitor Center. The Sacred Grove (not shown) is immediately to the right. My wife took this picture.

SharpShotGal Feb 28, 2011 2:41 PM

#12 the sitting area where the meetings were held... No wonder there were not many in the witnessing of the plates the room was small... One would think that if there were plates found to day the state department would come in and take the plates and hand them over to another for placing its worth or value to some other than religious orders.... Life to day can be so bland to all.... or more truthful... what do we say to this? Thank the lord for the truth be known .... Having Royal Blood lines my self I can just was up but yet its the way others are treated that counts so some where it all has to come even....

vvcarpio Mar 1, 2011 8:25 AM

The guide didn't actually call it "sitting area". He just referred to it as "this room." I had to give it the name "sitting area" to differentiate it from the bedroom in my description.

Your observation about the "sitting area" is pretty accurate. I remember the guide telling us something like, "you can imagine just how many people can fit in this small room".

The guide said no one today actually knows what furniture were inside the Log Home or if they had any beds for the children at all upstairs. But the rooms were accurately recreated. He said the antique home builders had ways of finding out the actual construction.

I read later that the golden plates were returned to the angel Moroni after being translated. But there were, I think, eight witnesses to its existence and being in the hands of Joseph Smith, Jr.

#14) Back of the Log Home.

#15) Our guide inside the Frame Home. My wife took this picture.

SharpShotGal Mar 1, 2011 3:51 PM

Well worth the visit of course, so are you going to write a piece and submit it.... I would say to some local magazine or history maybe even the Ensign the official magazine of the Church of Later Day Saints... They do take in stories but not sure what they pay they will be notified if selected... I can give you the address to their Editorial. You should visit they have gotten out a lot with Computers...

vvcarpio Mar 2, 2011 2:24 PM

I would like to be published but I don't know how or if I can take money from a church, at least while I'm still gainfully employed. But if you send me the address to their Editorial, I'll send them the narrative and pics for free should they decide to publish it. I think that's how everyone gets started anyway -- writers, photographers, musicians, and whatnot -- by offering their services for free. Thanks for your vote-of-confidence, SharpShotGal. It means a lot.

#16) The Palmyra New York Latter Day Saints (LDS) Temple is visible from the farm.

#17) On the way back we stopped by the LDS Temple. The gates were locked although there were only bushes with plenty of openings on either side of the stone posts that held the gates up, so we could have walked in to the property and took closer pictures. We weren't sure if we would be trespassing, though, so my wife took this picture with her zoom from outside the gate. The golden statue on top of the Temple is angel Moroni's.

Hards80 Mar 2, 2011 2:30 PM

very nicely introduced, you have a knack for writing I can tell, this could have easily been in any travel magazines introduction.

and the photos are really great, especially the first set. these are not easy conditions to shoot in and you handled it extremely well. the indoor scene in #2 is as good as it gets in this setting and i love how you handled the sun in #3.

Ordo Mar 2, 2011 6:25 PM

Wonderful set of pictures. Humble houses; clean souls.

vvcarpio Mar 3, 2011 8:12 AM

Thank you, Hards80, Ordo.

The guide, I'd say, was very proud of the homes and furnishings and the people who made them. There was a tour group of four people ahead of us -- and I imagine scores of others day in and day out -- but I saw no sign of boredom in his narratives like you might expect at other attractions. On the contrary, I detected excitement in his voice as if he was telling us this for the first time. At the end of the tour he said the Mormon faith was the greatest thing that happened to him and his wife (whom we've met at the Visitor Center).

#18) Path from the Frame Home to the Log Home.

#19) Winding path inside the Sacred Grove.

SharpShotGal Mar 4, 2011 12:16 AM

Temples are always locked but for days that full fledge members are heading there... If you ever get the chance and are in Utah make sure you visit the Visitor centre there.. I hear say that they have free days to go into the temple there but I have no idea when that is.... I am always busy with my life and with helping make things for the coffers...its hard to be just for a church when there is a real life to live to.... Find a private message for this... and by the way I love those last few too!

vvcarpio Mar 4, 2011 9:41 AM

I would have loved to take pictures inside the Temple. I remember it has days open for public tours. There's also actually a visitor center complex in Palmyra, (apart from the "visitor center" I keep referring to which is in the Family Farm), but was already closed when we arrived.

I think charity work is good. Not just for the beneficiaries but for the volunteers, too.

#20) The family farm. When the guide said the fences, like the Log Home, were also recreations, I mentioned they looked similar to the ones we saw at the Civil War memorial in Maryland. The guide said, yes, they're identical, but the farm's fencing came before the Civil War.

#21) One thing I noticed was the proliferation of benches in the farm (see #18, too). Whereas some museums we've been to seem to abhor benches and want the crowd to keep moving (perhaps benches attract people to hang out, open packed lunches, and spread litter), the Joseph Smith Family farm has plenty of them. I can imagine an old couple making a pilgrimage and sitting down on this bench in the Sacred Grove to both rest and reflect.

SharpShotGal Mar 4, 2011 10:08 PM

That is what the lord said to do... That the 7th day was the day of rest.. To keep it Holy... work all the other day but not that one day... One can get burned out if they keep working ever single day so one day of rest from work is good enough... I miss having the 5 day work week with Sat being my home work day and then of course Sunday we rested..... and that is just what the lord said to do ...

vvcarpio Mar 6, 2011 9:48 AM

Just one day a week. And as I remember reading in "The Faith Instinct" (2009) by Nicholas Wade, churchgoers begin to grumble in the pews when the minister rambles on for far too long...

SharpShotGal Mar 6, 2011 9:57 AM

That for sure.... I hated to have to sit in a cold church even with my coat on and listen to a preacher give lectures as if he was giving judgement us all...Children as well.. plus not having time enough upon getting up at 6:30 in the morn to eat a good breakfast so I would be hungry too!..... and each time they slammed the Bible down or hit it ... it would startle me to near death... Today at even a slight noise unexpected I feel it rattle my cage and send current through my nerves endings that do not make me feel good at all. There has been some things that have done that in the LDS Church but yet it carries over from my child hood a condition from so many other things as well.

vvcarpio Mar 6, 2011 10:14 AM

I remember the book was comparing today's impatience with religious customs of really ancient times (tribes long before Christ -- how do scholars know when they weren't there? Tribes in remote islands and jungles that early Westerner-researchers came into contact with continue to practice their ancient rituals. Anyway...) when natives would sing and dance for over 24-hours non-stop in religious rituals. Today, churchgoers have other things in schedule right after the service.

But reading your description I can see those happen, too.

SharpShotGal Mar 8, 2011 3:50 PM

AH what came to thought after reading first part remembering the Jim Jones and his followers.. and the many others.. at least I do not see the Mormon faith all dying as such... but outsiders pushing them on in such haste.. I see outsiders pushing death on even with out religion ... as if they wish to stop all religions thinking they are the only that deserve to live.... they are those in ill haste and taste in life.... long story of course...

hkmp50 Mar 9, 2011 12:15 AM

VV, you are really a teacher aren't you. Your narriatives are so compelling you have to be a teacher or a writer. Any way whatever your profession you are above and beyond all else a great photographer. I do so love your work!. Thanks for sharing...Frank

vvcarpio Mar 10, 2011 7:41 AM

SharpShotGal, I have not heard of Jim Jones. It's scary how a cultist can attract a following.

I remember the Amazing Kreskin, a stage hypnotist who bills himself as "the world's greatest mentalist". In his TV show back in the 70s (you can watch them on he kept emphasizing the "power of suggestion". If the mind (hypnosis) can do what he does on stage, imagine, he says, what negative thoughts can do. His message is to think positive thoughts always.

Thanks a lot, Frank. I'm not a teacher or a writer so those are pretty high compliments. Much appreciated. I guess I'm like the electronics hobbyist who breaks things apart to find out how they work. I remember enjoying a Michael Crichton novel and wanted to break it apart to see how he could make the story so page-turning.

#22) Front of the Log Home. My wife took this picture.

ac.smith Mar 10, 2011 8:01 AM

I do have to agree with Frank, your narratives and photos are compelling and the thought did occur to me that if you tire of your "day" job a career as a travel writer/photographer would be a natural alternative for you. I also think any group wishing to document local/regional culture or history should actively seek you out for the project.

A. C.

vvcarpio Mar 10, 2011 9:03 AM

I guess I will strive to make it happen. Thanks a lot, A.C. and all, for your encouragements.

#23) Log home and farm seen from the entrance to the Sacred Grove.

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