With the Church growing stronger in Kirtland, Ohio, in June 1831, Jesus instructed Joseph Smith and other Church leaders to travel to Missouri where the location for the building of the holy city of Zion would be revealed. "If ye are faithful," said Jesus, "ye shall assemble yourselves together to rejoice upon the land of Missouri, which is the land of your inheritance, which is now the land of your enemies."
The prophet and several others made the 900-mile journey to the town of Independence in Jackson County, Missouri, on the western border of the state. And on July 20, Jesus revealed to Smith that this was the location on which to build Zion. "Behold," said Jesus, "the place which is now called Independence is the center place; and a spot for the temple is lying westward, upon a lot which is not far from the courthouse."
The Saints who had traveled with the prophet were overjoyed at the news. Smith was exuberant about the prospects of this largely unsettled region, and told the Saints that Jackson County, Missouri, had been the location of the Garden of Eden. Jesus directed the Church members to buy up as much of the land there as they were able.
In August, the 25-year-old Smith dedicated the site for a future temple, laying a foundation for the building of Zion in America. He then returned to Ohio, where he encouraged a portion of the Saints to make a new home for themselves in Missouri. Hundreds packed up and made their way out to the frontier, and for the next seven years the Church maintained settlements in both Ohio and Missouri.