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Following Faith
Peggy Fletcher Stack
Peggy Fletcher Stack has been producing stories for The Salt Lake Tribune's award-winning Faith section for nearly two decades. Writing about contemporary faith, rituals, and spirituality as well as religion's conflicts and cohesion has always been Stack's passion. Follow her at facebook.com/peggy.fletcherstack, Twitter @religiongal

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Mormons buy property at site of Missouri massacre

Missouri was once a site of tension and bloodshed for the Mormon faithful, who were driven out of the state with an "extermination order" on their heads.

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Now the Utah-based faith has returned to its former homeland in a position of strength.

It has just dedicated a temple in Kansas City and bought thousands of acres that belonged to an LDS offshoot, the Community of Christ, including Haun's Mill and the Far West Burying Ground.

Haun's Mill is sacred space to Latter-day Saints, a place where segments of the Missouri militia attacked 30 to 40 Mormon families without warning. The Oct. 30, 1838, episode left 17 Mormons and one friendly outsider dead, and another 13 wounded, including a woman and a 7-year-old boy.

"Because the attack was unprovoked in a time of truce, had no specific authorization, and was made by a vastly superior force with unusual brutality," according to an essay in the Encyclopedia of Mormonism, "it has come to be known as "The Haun's Mill Massacre.' "

LDS Church spokesman Scott Trotter confirmed the land acquisition this week, saying, "the church recently acquired operating farmland and several other non-farmland properties located in Missouri and Ohio from the Community of Christ. Non-farm sites include the Haun’s Mill and the Far West Burying Ground in Missouri as well as the Joseph Smith Sr. home in Kirtland, Ohio."

The church plans to "continue farm operations and will maintain the historical properties," Trotter said. "There are no plans for any development."

Peggy Fletcher Stack

Copyright 2014 The Salt Lake Tribune. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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