Elder and Sister Watts

Elder and Sister Watts

Hill Cumorah Visitors' Sites Mission Statement

"Behold, I am a disciple of Jesus Christ, the Son of God. I have been called of him to declare his word among his people, that they might have everlasting life."
3 Nephi 5:13

Thursday, July 28, 2011


Friday, Saturday and Sunday we spent in the heart of American History, Concord, Boston, and Lexington, MA.  What a great time we had!  First we stopped at Orchard House in Concord. 

This is a home that Louisa May Alcott lived in with her family when she wrote Little Women.  Louisa's books have been favorites of mine since I was a girl.  The home was built in the late 1600's.  The Alcotts moved in after doing repairs in the mid 1800's.  It is the original home and 85 % of the furnishing belonged to the Alcotts.  I especially enjoyed seeing the little desk in Louisa's room that her father built for her and the original sketches of her younger sister, May, right on the walls and trim in her bedroom.


Next we went to the site of the location of the "shot heard 'round the world", the North Bridge.  It is not the original bridge, but it was amazing to be at a location of such important US History.  We listened to a National Park volunteer explain the events that happened here, but in a nutshell, this is the location where the Revolutionary War officially began when American colonists fired on British troops for the first time.


Riding around Boston the next day on a hop on and off trolley was the way to see and learn about the history of this impressive city.  We stopped on the Boston Harbor for some delicious seafood.  Steven had a King fish Salad and I had clam chowder.  Yum, Yum!


Our next stop was Faneuil Hall, which has served as a marketplace and a meeting hall since 1742.  Inspirational speeches by Samuel Adams and other patriots were given at Faneuil Hall. These oratories became the footstool for America's desire to obtain independence from the British.  

The hall was impressive on the outside and beautiful on the inside.

It is interesting to note that we experienced the coldest our car thermometer has ever been coming on our mission, and now the hottest our car thermometer has even been going home from our mission.


It was very hot in Boston, but still, we walked about a mile of Boston's Freedom Trail; we started at Fanueil Hall . . .

 walked past Paul Revere's home . . .

and ended at the Old North Church.  This church was built in 1723 and is the oldest active church in the United States.

 On April 18, 1775, probably a little after 10 P.M., the 191 ft steeple of the Church served a military purpose.  Paul Revere told three Boston patriots to hang two lanterns in the steeple. The lanterns were displayed to send a warning to Charlestown patriots across the Charles River about the movements of the British Army. This lantern method was a fast way to inform the back-up riders in Charlestown about the movements of the British; these back-up riders planned to deliver the warning message to Lexington and Concord in case Revere and Dawes were arrested on the way.

The lanterns were hung for just under a minute to avoid catching the eyes of the British troops occupying Boston, but this was long enough for the message to be received in Charlestown. The militia waiting across the river had been told to look for the signal lanterns, and were prepared to act as soon as they saw them. 


Old Ironsides was our next stop.  Not only is the ship itself impressive, but so is her battle record.  USS Constitution (Old Ironsides) is a wooden-hulled, three-masted heavy frigate of the United States Navy. She is the world's oldest floating commissioned naval vessel and was launched in 1797. 

The Constitution is most famous for her actions during the War of 1812 against Great Britain, when she captured numerous merchant ships and defeated five British warships. These battles earned her the nickname of "Old Ironsides" because cannon balls just bounced off of her sides like they were iron, even though they were really constructed of wood. 

Our last stop in Boston was the Public Gardens.  I love reading about Boston and especially this park in Robert McCloskey's Caldecott Medal winning picture book, Make Way for Ducklings
So it was a special treat to ride in the Swan Boats that were featured in this true story of a family of ducklings and to see these bronze statues honoring Robert McCloskey.


On Sunday we enjoyed going to church in Boston and then we drove to the Boston Temple.  There is such peace and serenity on the temple grounds.


We again learned more of the history of our country as we visited Lexington and the Lexington Battle Green, properly known as Lexington Common, which is the site of the Battle of Lexington.

In 1775 local Minutemen emerged from Buckman Tavern adjacent to the Lexington Common and formed two rows on the Lexington Common to oppose British forces. The Minutemen were seriously outnumbered and suffered the first casualties of the American Revolution when the British troops opened fire. The militiamen didn't return fire during this battle.

This flag flies at the battlefield to honor those who fought and died there.  It is one of a few that is allowed to fly day and night every day of the year.  It is replaced every year on Flag Day.  Below is Buckman Tavern where the colonists met before the battle and took the wounded after the battle.

So historically, this is the sequence of events. Lanterns were hung in the Old North Church as British troops began marching towards Concord to confiscate ammunition. Paul Revere and others ride through the night sounding the warning, "The British are coming!". British troops arrive early in the morning at Lexington and are met by the Minutemen. The British troops fired on the Minutemen killing some and wounding others. Colonists didn't fire back. British troops then moved on to Concord and a battle ensues on the North Bridge where Minutemen fired on British troops for the first time. As Minutemen arrive from the surrounding areas they soon out number the British troops and win the battle. The Revolutionary War begins.

Learning firsthand about American History at these sites has been an enriching experience for us both.

Monday, July 25, 2011


On Thursday, July 21, we visited the birthplace of the Prophet Joseph Smith in Vermont.
We knew he was born in Sharon, Vermont, but it turns out the home he lived in was on the dividing line of Sharon and South Royalton, Vermont.  Later he said he was born in Sharon, so that is what history now says.

We really enjoyed going through the visitors' center in Vermont.  We allowed plenty of time, so we weren't rushed and enjoyed everything our missionary guide shared with us.  He and his wife are the directors of the site.  They arrived in January 2011 and interestingly enough we met them as they were on their way to the site because they stopped in Palmyra for some tours of our sites.

These two portraits are of Joseph Smith's parents.  The top one is his mother Lucy.  She was living when it was painted and was the model.  The bottom one, of Joseph Smith, Sr., his father, was painted using sketches of him and pictures of other family members that resembled him.

The hearth on the fireplace below was one of my favorite artifacts.  When the property was purchased by the Mormon Church, this hearthstone and a front step were the only parts remaining of the home where Joseph was born.


Below is the head of a bronze statue of Joseph.  The statue is about 8 feet tall because the artist said Joseph seemed larger than life to him. 


Here Steven stands in front of the monument erected to honor Joseph Smith.  Junius Wells came on assignment from the First Presidency of the Mormon Church to Vermont in the spring of 1905 to purchase the land, design the monument, arrange the construction of it, and oversee the dedicatory ceremony.


A special highlight for us was a ride in a golf cart with the directors' wife to the Solomon Mack home site.  Solomon was Joseph's grandfather; his mother's father.  This home was about 1/2 mile from where Joseph lived with his family.  He would have spent considerable time here with his siblings, visiting grandparents.


Here is another view of the monument, which stands 38 1/2 feet tall, one foot for each year Joseph lived.  The monument is solid granite and is one of the largest single pieces of flawless granite in the world.  It weighs 40 tons and the base, which is made up of four pieces of granite, weighs 60 tons.  Moving that much granite 35 miles in 1905 with horses and a wagon was a huge task.  The specially constructed wagon had wheels that were 22 inches wide.  To read more about the amazing story of moving this monument, go to the following link and scroll down almost to the end. Placing the monument.


This original stone step is located where the home once stood.  As mentioned earlier, this front step and the hearth stone are the only remains of the original home.


Near the end of our visit we climbed Patriarch Hill for a panoramic view of the monument and the Visitors' Center.  We mentioned to our Senior Missionary Guide how peaceful it was in the area, and that we felt that peace even before we saw the monument, as we were eating our picnic lunch.  He told us that in a blessing President Joseph F. Smith left as he closed the dedicatory service he said, "Peace be with you, and unto this place, unto this monument and unto all who come to visit it..."

Friday, July 22, 2011


Friends kept asking if I planned to continue posting on Mission Musings after our mission was finished and I said I wasn't sure.  Here is what I now know:
1.  I have at least three posts from our mission that I didn't get time to finish.  I will finish them sooner or later and post them.
2.  I want to post our trip home. 
3.  I will probably continue to post mission experiences when we get home.

Sooo, here is the first post of our trip home.  On Monday, July 18 we left our beloved home in the north end of the Hill Cumorah Visitors' Center about 1:30 PM and headed for Watkins Glen State Park.


That afternoon we spent some time hiking in the park.  This park is the most famous of the Finger Lake State Parks.  The glen's stream descents 400 feet past 200 -foot cliffs, generating 19 waterfalls along its course.
 Later in the afternoon we drove on to Corning and that evening we had dinner with some friends that used to live in Oregon, Mark Beck and his family and his brother, Andy Beck and his family.  They both work at Corning and have now lived in New York for several years.
 The next morning, Tuesday, July 19,  we went to the Corning Museum of Glass.  We enjoyed visiting the museum and viewing beautiful glass artwork.
Steven even tried his hand (or breath) at glass blowing.  It was fun to watch him at work.
 He made this beautiful Christmas ornament.

Cooperstown was our next stop on Wednesday, July 20.  There we visited the Baseball Hall of Fame.


It was quite an experience to be in Cooperstown and to spend time in the wonderful museum.  I found it very interesting, even though I'm not really a baseball fan and Steven loved it!

Steven stands next to a life size picture of Babe Ruth.

That same day went to the Farmers' Museum, also in Cooperstown.  It is an open-air museum that opened in 1942, mostly because of the efforts of Stephen C. Clark, Sr.  He owned the large barn and property which now houses many original homes built in the late 1700s to the mid 1800s.  The carousel is called the Empire State Carousel and the animals and paintings represent the history of New York.  It took 20 years to complete.  I couldn't resist having a ride.


This picturesque building is a blacksmith shop.  We got to watch the blacksmith and his assistant hard at work.


A large barn was the beginning of the museum.  It was inherited by Stephen Clark and he donated it along with the property to the state of New York for the open-air museum.  Other buildings include a pharmacy, a store, a school house, barns, a hotel, etc.
We are having a great time so far, exploring the Eastern United States!