There is a historical site called Adam-Ondi-Ahman five miles north of Gallatin and it is sacred ground to members of the Mormon church and its followers. As this post is written (2004) the religious shrine attracts thousands of visitors each year.
Such a site could hardly be located in a more lovely setting. It is rugged but beautiful as well, located on the north side of the Grand River, which takes a sharp full turn against high limestone bluffs on the south to head east into wooded slopes.
The significance of this site is, according to Joseph Smith, the founder of Mormonism, that this is where Adam offered sacrifices to God after he and Eve had been driven from the Garden of Eden. The faithful believe that Eden was centered in what is today Independence, Mo.
Just as Gallatin was becoming a town, Lyman Wright, a Mormon high priest, settled on Grand River where he operated a ferry boat and established a community nearby. This was the beginning of a powerful Mormon influence in the region that, while never factually oppressive or domineering, eventually led to great turmoil and loss of life.
This was largely due to mistrust and misunderstanding between the ruggedly-independent settlers and the tightly-knit Mormons who saw their mission as not only the saving of souls, but the setting up of God’s Kingdom on Earth. In their sincere zeal, the saints were over-zealous as viewed by the suspicious nature of the settlers.
A stake of Zion was soon organized and a town sprang up near Adam-Ondi-Ahman with at least 40 families permanently located there. It had a temple site, a city square, storehouses, schools, etc.
In August of 1838 an election was held in Gallatin at which time efforts were made to prevent the Mormons from exercising their right to vote.
In retrospect the tensions that arose developed because of the Mormon’s rapid migration into the area, a perception by the settlers that the Mormons “came on too strong” and that their presence was a threat to their existence. This conflict between two groups of sincere, hard-working and God-fearing people is a sad chapter in the county’s history.
The Mormon Church today is respected in Daviess County and everyone is aware of the importance of proper development of the site. The church has purchased nearly 3,000 acres of land around Adam-Ondi-Ahman, greatly improved and cleared the land, established a nursery, and constructed a fine road form Highway 13 into the site.
There one will find historical markers, rest rooms, and a number of lovely scenic vistas over the valley. It has been said the church will one day build a temple there because of the belief that in the final days of restitution the Ancient of Days will come there in all power and glory, preparatory to the reign of Christ on earth.
Tower Hill is of importance to Mormons, based on testimony given by Joseph Smith, founder of Mormonism. This was once the site of three separate altars, one spaced behind the other, each higher than the one before it. These represented the three orders of the priesthood. According to the Prophet Smith, this is where Adam offered sacrifices to God after he and Eve were driven from the Garden of Eden. Tourists apparently have long since taken all that remained of the “altar of prayer.”
Early Mormon history tells that Joseph Smith, at the time he came into the area to stake out the town of Adam-Ondi-Ahman, invited dignitaries who accompanied him to a place in the brush and trees which he found without confusion or hesitancy. Smith was acting on a revelation which he said occurred at Kirkland, Ohio, long before the Saints moved northward from Jackson
County (Mo.) to Daviess and Caldwell counties.
The site, just south of Jameson, is well worth a visit and you are welcome there. Watch for signs on Highway 13.