This story appears here courtesy of TheChurchNews.com. It is not for use by other media.
By Christine Rappleye and Kenneth Mays, Church News
As early leaders of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints sent missionaries beyond the United States and as members traveled or established settlements abroad, many international events became connected to the history of Church.
Locations in Canada, Mexico and the United Kingdom — England, Wales and Scotland — along with islands in Tonga, are part of this list of 10 worldwide sites associated to events in Church history — but they may not be as well-known. A bonus site in England — connected to the translation of King James Bible — is included.
1. Cardston, Alberta, Canada
In 1886, Cache Stake President Charles O. Card received permission from President John Taylor to investigate colonizing opportunities in southwestern Canada, and he took a group from Utah to explore the area.
The next year, he returned to Canada with 10 families and established a colony named Card’s Town. He was the first mayor, according to the Cardston Historical Society.
A historical marker in front of the Cards’ restored home notes “It was one of the first buildings in the new townsite and remained for many years the center of Cardston’s development.”
A monument on the outskirts of town marks the site where the first group of families entered Canada. “In a driving rain, each member of the group of eight families added a rock to the pile, and they all gave three cheers for their new home and religious freedom,” the plaque on the monument notes.
2. John Taylor Sites in Toronto, Ontario, Canada
When Parley P. Pratt arrived in Toronto, Ontario, in 1836, one of the places he visited was the home of John and Lenora Taylor. They had a wood-turning shop next to their home, according to the account in “Sacred Places, Vol. 1,” edited by LaMar C. Berrett.
The 68-story Scotia Tower and Plaza, and the Bank of Nova Scotia, in downtown Toronto now occupy the block where the Taylor home and shop once stood.
The Taylors and others, including Joseph Fielding and his sisters Mary and Mercy Fielding, were later baptized by Elder Pratt in the Black Creek near Downsview Park, in Toronto.
John Taylor later became the third president of the Church.
3. Farm of John and Jane Benbow, Castle Frome, England
Serving a mission in England, Elder Wilford Woodruff arrived March 4, 1840, at the home of John and Jane Benbow at Hill Farm near the village of Castle Frome, Herefordshire, England. He preached and spent the night there.
Days later, the Benbows and several others were baptized in a pond on the farm; dozens of people were baptized in the pond in 1840 and 1841. The influence and generosity of the Benbows were monumental in this chapter of the Church’s history.
While Elder Woodruff was in the Herefordshire area, he would frequently use the Benbow home as a base for missionary work.
The farm itself is privately owned, but the Church does own the pond, which is always open to the public.
4. Chatburn Baptism Site, Lancashire, England
The village of Chatburn is in the Ribble Valley in eastern Lancashire, England, and other nearby villages include Clitheroe, Downham and Rimington. Elder Heber C. Kimball served two fruitful missions in Great Britain during which he labored in this area. The villages of Chatburn and Downham were remarkably productive.
The baptisms for many who joined the Church were performed in a stream near Chatburn.
5. The Gadfield Elm Chapel, Worcestershire, England
The chapel at Gadfield Elm in Worcestershire, England, was initially built by the United Brethren in 1836, with room for 100 people.
As Elder Woodruff began sharing the gospel in the area where Worcestershire, Herefordshire and Gloucestershire meet, many people started joining the Church, including the Benbows and their neighbors. The Benbows and many of the United Brethren congregation joined the Church, and the chapel was deeded to the Church and was the site of the first Latter-day Saint worship services in England.
It was sold to help finance the trips to help emigrants to the United States. The Gadfield Elm Chapel was bought and restored by a private group and then donated to the Church in 2004. Information about visiting the chapel is at uk.churchofjesuschrist.org/gadfield-elm-chapel.
6. Mormon Battalion in Mexico
The Mormon Battalion was mustered in July 1846 to help the United States in the Mexican American War. Battalion members helped create wagon roads as they marched nearly 2,000 miles from Council Bluffs, Iowa, to San Diego, California, through Mexican territory. The territory at the time included present-day California, Nevada, Utah and New Mexico and parts of Arizona and Colorado and other current U.S. states.
In December 1846, the route took them into present-day Mexico near the Arizona-New Mexico-Mexico border, through unforgiving dry terrain of rocks and desert scrub. The battalion continued west to roughly present-day Douglas, Arizona, and then started bearing northward back to the United States side of the border, where they eventually found the San Pedro River near Palominos, Cochise, Arizona.
7. Neiafu, Vava’u, Tonga
In the island nation of Tonga, Vava’u is the northern cluster of islands, with Neiafu being one of the larger towns there. In 1895 — four years after the first Latter-day Saint missionaries arrived from Samoa — Andrew Jensen, assistant Church historian, was traveling from Fiji to Samoa and came to Tonga. He sailed to Vava’u and to Neiafu. On Aug. 20, 1895, he took a walk and climbed Mount Talau, the highest peak in the area. He recorded about the “magnificent view” and prayed there.
He visited other Tongan islands and returned to Neiafu a few weeks later with missionaries. On September 9, 1895, he and the missionaries climbed Mount Talau, sang and knelt together and prayed.
A temple is being built in Neiafu with a groundbreaking having taken place in September 2021.
8. Percival Building, Nuku’alofa, Tongatapu, Tonga
Brigham Smoot and Alva Butler, the first missionaries to Tonga, arrived in the capital city of Nuku’alofa, on July 15, 1891. After some difficulty, they were able to rent an apartment above a bakery owned by Mr. Percival on the corner of Taufa’ahau Road and Salote Road. It had a balcony that overlooked the city’s main intersection and also watched the king pass by on his way to the Parliament Building. The missionaries were able to meet the kingdom’s leaders.
(See “Saints of Tonga” by Brent Reed Anderson, Fred Woods and Riley Moore Moffat and “LDS Church History Sites in the Kingdom of Tonga” by Moffat in Mormon Historical Studies, Spring and Fall 2016, Vol. 17.)
The building is still standing, has the balcony and looks much like it did in 1891.
A temple was dedicated in Nuku’alofa in 1983 and rededicated in 2007.
9. Arthur’s Seat, Edinburgh, Scotland
Arthur’s Seat is an ancient volcano and the main, rocky peak of the hills in Holyrood Park. It rises about 250 meters (about 820 feet) above sea level.
When members of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles served missions in the British Isles in the late 1830s and early 1840s, Orson Pratt went to Scotland. He noted the beauty of the area, including the surrounding summits. He would climb the rocky Arthur’s Seat — known as “Pratt’s Hill” among Latter-day Saints.
“On his first climb, it is said, he pleaded with the Lord for 200 converts. By the time he left Scotland, that prayer had been more than answered,” according to “Men With a Mission: The Quorum of the Twelve Apostles in the British Isles, 1837-1841” by David J. Whittaker, James B. Allen and Ronald K. Esplin.
10. Abel Evans’ Grave, Merthyr Tydfil, Wales
When the Latter-day Saint missionaries came to Merthyr Tydfil, Wales, Abel Evans was picked by the local nonconformists to debate them. By the end of the second debate, he found he couldn’t sustain the nonconformists’ arguments. He was later baptized as a member of the Church.
He served as a traveling missionary through North and South Wales. He emigrated to America in 1850, married Mary Jones and settled in Utah. He was called on a mission to Wales in 1865 and served as the president of the Welsh District. He developed a bad cough that affected his health. He worked until he died in November 1866 at Merthyr Tydfil. (See uk.churchofjesuschrist.org/elders-in-graveyards for more information.)
Bonus Site: Henry Saville’s Room, Merton College, Oxford, England
Though not related to the Church’s history, it is connected to the translation of the King James Bible. Henry Saville was the warden of Merton College in Oxford, England, when he was a member of the Second Oxford Committee working to translate the Bible. The Second Oxford Committee was responsible for the Gospels, Acts and the book of Revelation. His group of translators met in his quarters at Merton College. (See kingjamesbibletranslators.org/bios/Henry_Savile/ for more information.)
— Photos by Kenneth Mays, who is a retired instructor in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints’ Department of Seminaries and Institutes. His image collection is available at catalog.ChurchofJesusChrist.org.