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 http://www.salem.org/.