Lake Erie, Ohio

Fairport Harbor


Fairport is an excellent harbor, and affords a safe moorage for shipping”- so wrote Oliver Cowdery, one of the first latter day saint missionaries to bring the message of the restored gospel to the Kirtland region. Fairport Harbor played a transitional role during the 1830s for many Mormon migrants, who believed they were obeying divine instruction that counseled them to “go to the Ohio.” Hundreds of converts passed, through this harbor on their way to and from the town of Kirtland, which lay just twelve miles southwest. Many saints were guided by Fairport’s beacons of light, which shone upon the waters of Lake Erie. For those incoming saints, the Fairport lighthouse signaled a new ray of hope, and for those missionaries embarking from her banks, new paths to travel in the quest for more converts to Mormonism.

This was a meaningful place of comings and goings. From here, significant Latter – Day Saint missions were launched, including the first mission of the (1835), and also the first mission of the church to England (1837). it was also where Joseph Smith greeted his ninety three-year -old grandmother, who had traveled hundreds of miles to see her family, here, Latter-Day Saint families were charged with emotion as they greeted loved ones and also bid them farewell, knowing that it would be many months before they would once again embrace.

Fairport was also a place of active commerce that influenced the daily life of the saints in this area. From here. Newel K. Whitney, a Mormon merchant, shipped many casks of ashes from his Kirtland ashery to the east. In 1847, Fairport reached a peak in commercial prosperity, witnessing nearly three thousand vessels coming in and out of her harbor. Yet by this time the saints had left the region and in the same year had begun settling in the Salt Lake Valley.

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