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Posted 24 Feb 2001   For week ended May 07, 2000
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Sent on Mormon-News: 12May00

Summarized by Kent Larsen

Salem's ties to Mormons recalled
Boston Globe pgB02 6May00 N6
By Diego Ribadeneira and Michael Paulson: Globe Staff

SALEM, MASSACHUSETTS -- Salem may be known for witchcraft, but the community also has a strong and little-known tie to Mormon history. Joseph Smith visited Salem as a young boy, and again following the founding of the Church, prophesying that gold would be found in Salem. He also visited the local museum and signed the guest register in 1836.

Now that same museum, the Peabody-Essex museum, is exhibiting rare Mormon artifacts from its Phillips Library and from the LDS Church's Museum of Church History and Art. The exhibit is bolstered by a series of events in Salem, which with the opening of the new LDS Temple in Belmont, Massachussets, are expected to attract thousands to the area in the coming months.

''We knew that the Mormon church was going to be building a temple in the metropolitan Boston area, and we realized that we had some very critically important pieces of the Mormon past,'' said exhibit co-curator William T. La Moy. ''We think we have an interesting representation of how the church evolved and moved west,'' he said.

And LDS Church officials are delited with the exhibit, ''A lot of our members did not know how rich Salem was in church history,'' said Sue Schmidt, the LDS Church's regional public affairs director. ''People had no idea Joseph Smith had been to Salem, or that some of the early members at Salem contributed greatly to the success of the church."

As for the prophesy of gold in Salem, it is generally interpreted as meaning that LDS missionaries would have success in Salem. And, in fact, they did. Nathaniel H. Felt of Salem provided housing to Brigham Young. After joining the Church, Felt later led about 100 Salem members west to Utah.

The exhibit includes early mentions of Mormons in Salem from the Essex Gazette and tracts and broadsides from the 19th centry. It also includes engravings of Mormon handcarts and wagons headed across the plains. It also includes a genealogy work room where visitors can work on their own family history. It runs through August 27th. Information about the events in Salem in conjunction with the exhibit are available at


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