Mormon Land Ownership as a Factor in Evaluating the Extent of Mormon Settlements and Influence in Missouri, 1831-1841
Brigham Young University
The extent of early Mormon land holdings in Missouri has never been discussed in detail. The reason is two-fold: it is virtually impossible to analyze Mormon land holding without knowing the names of the Mormons who lived in Missouri from 1831-1841. Concurrently, without proper identification of the Mormons, it has been impossible to know exactly where they settled. This study is based on an examination of over 3,000 journals and other private and public documents which, in turn, revealed the names of over 8,000 Mormons who lived in Missouri during the ten years between 1831 and 1841. Also, research in the records of over thirty Missouri counties have revealed where the Mormons lived, particularly when they were landowners. Analyzing the Mormon, non-Mormon population ration in various counties and the land owned collectively among the Mormons provides a broader foundation for understanding the complex Missouri-Mormon problems of the late 1830's. As long as researchers worked with only a few hundred known Mormons who lived in Missouri, their studies were unavoidably restricted. This study shows that Mormons migrated well beyond the three to five counties usually discussed by historians. These counties are Jackson, Clay, Caldwell, Daviess and Carroll. Land deeds reveal that Mormons owned more than 82,000 acres in fourteen Missouri counties, or twenty-six (26) percent of the counties then organized. Mormons settled not only in the frontier of northwestern Missouri but also in north-eastern, southeastern, and central Missouri. This study also shows that the total Mormon population in Missouri during the period indicated was much greater than most writers have previously recognized. Indeed it is probable that, by late 1838, Mormons made up as much as ten percent of Missouri's population even as they were predicting that more "Saints" were on the way.