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"Kanesville Tabernacle"

The Mormons contributed to the history of the Council Bluffs area in many ways.  After their leader, Joseph Smith and his brother Hyrum were murdered near Nauvoo, in nearby Carthage, Illinois, the Mormons were ruled by the Quorum of the Twelve, with Brigham Young presiding over the Quorum.  As the members moved on to the Salt Lake area,  Mr. Orson Hyde was left to preside over church members in the area.  Mr. Hyde was publisher of "The Frontier Guardian" an important pioneer publication.

Even though the leaders (including Brigham) had made it on to the Salt Lake valley, the largest gathering of church members in the United States was still in the local surrounding area, so Brigham returned after only staying in the valley for three weeks to help bring the following together and to encourage them to continue the journey.

It was discussed occasionally that the First Presidency would be reinstated and it was clear that Brigham Young would be the one most likely sustained as the Prophet and President of the Church.  On December 5th, 1847, the Quorum of the Twelve met at Orson Hyde's farm home about eight miles southeast of present day Council Bluffs.

A unanimous approval reorganized the First Presidency with Brigham Young as Prophet and President, Heber C. Kinball as First Counselor, and Dr. Willard Richards as Second Counselor.  The Quorum of the Twelve Apostles comprised of Brigham Young, Heber C. Kimball, Parley P. Pratt, John Taylor, Wilford Woodruff, George A. Smith, Orson Hyde, Willard Richards, Lyman Wight, Orson Pratt, Amasa Lyman, and Ezra T. Benson.  The precedent set in the tabernacle of reorganizing the First Presidency following the death of a Prophet continues today.

Church policy is to sustain the reorganization by church members.  Immediately, Bishop Henry W. Miller was assigned the task of building a tabernacle large enough to accommodate a large gathering of the members in order to present and sustain the new First Presidency.  A log tabernacle was built in the near downtown area of current day Council Bluffs, and the gathering occurred on December 27th, 1847.  This means that Bishop Miller had to build the 60' x 40' tabernacle in approximately 18 days.  This allowed him 2 or 3 days to gather 200 men to complete the monumental task in a cold and bitter December.  The building would need to accommodate 800 to 1,000 people, and was packed when at least 1,000 showed up.

Following the General Conference of December 27th, the newly reorganized First Presidency was sustained in the tabernacle again during the General Conference of the church that convened on April 6, 1848.  In Manchester, England, 18,000 members sustained the reorganized First Presidency in twenty-eight conferences on August 14, 1848.  Another 5,000 members in Salt Lake Valley sustained the brethren on October 8, 1848.

It was learned later that the tabernacle was built on ground that had an underground natural spring so when the grounds thawed, the bottom logs became water logged and started to rot.  The tabernacle continued to be used for two or three years at which time the bottom logs were heavily damaged.  Having served its purpose, the good logs were salvaged leaving the remains to deteriorate.

After the Mormons moved on, the tabernacle and its important contribution to the saints existed only in history records.  In 1996, an authentic replica of the tabernacle was built on as close an area as currently possible.*

You can visit the tabernacle and visitor center April through September, open 9:30  A.M. to 7:00  P.M. and  October through March, 10:00 A.M. to 5:00  P.M.   The tabernacle is closed on Thanksgiving and Christmas, and closes earlier on the eves of Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Years.  Admission is free.  The building and tour was originally sponsored by Kanesville Restoration, Inc. and Pottawattamie County Historic Trails Association, Inc., both non-profit organizations.  They have since turned the building over to the Latter-day Saints, who now manage the property.  As you can guess, the tour is worth a lot more than "free" so carry some change with you.  All donations are tax free, receipts provided.  You may contact the center at 712-322-0500.

We also have the Hyde Park area to commemorate these early contributors to the rich history of the area.

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