Plat of Kirtland, Ohio, not before 2 August 1833
Plat of , Kirtland Township, Geauga Co., OH, not before 2 August 1833; text in handwriting of ; drawings in handwriting of ; one page; CHL. Includes redactions.One leaf measuring 15 × 16 inches (38 × 41 cm). The plat as drawn measures 12⅝ × 12⅝ inches (32 × 32 cm). The document contains graphite, ink, and watercolor. Light orange watercolor denotes the city streets. The document has a cotton textile backing and has many severe wrinkles from being rolled and housed in a long tin container for storing maps, blueprints, surveys, and charts. The plat likely was donated to the Church Historian’s Office by 1865 with a container labeled “2 plots of the city of .”
Case, not after 1865. Church History Museum, Salt Lake City. The label on this case indicates that it once held two plats of Kirtland, Ohio.
From the time JS arrived in , Ohio, in February 1831, to mid-1833, no one had created a master plan for organizing and developing Kirtland. In the early months of 1833, church leaders began acquiring large land tracts, including the property, which was obtained in April 1833 and connected ’s and ‘s large landholdings. Those three properties became the focal point of new city-planning efforts. In consultation with JS and probably , Frederick G. Williams drew the map featured here, probably in the days following 2 August, the day when JS dictated a revelation concerning the development of Kirtland. The plat bears no date, and other than the revelations mentioned below, surviving evidence provides few clues as to the plat’s creation date or when subsequent additions and changes to the individual lots were made.A 4 June 1833 revelation to take charge of the and to divide it into lots for “those who seek inheritances as it shall be determined in council among you.” Later in June, drafted a plat for the “” (to be built in ) with an accompanying explanation of the plat and sent it on 26 June 1833 to in , Missouri. A 2 August 1833 revelation then directed the to plan for town development in . That revelation stated, “Ye shall commence a work of laying out and preparing a begining and foundation of the city of the of here in the land of Kirtland begining at my house and behold it must be done according to the pattern which I have given unto you.” The pattern mentioned in that revelation probably referred to the earlier explanation of the plat of the city of Zion.This revelation also specified that three “houses,” all of a similar size, were to be built in ’s central block: “my ,” or temple, which was already under construction and was to be the northernmost building; a “house for the presidency,” to be located immediately south of the temple; and a “house unto me for the work of the printing of the translation of my ,” which was to be the southernmost building. These three “houses” are represented on the plat by drawings of three simple gabled buildings in the center block. That the houses specified in the 2 August revelation appear on the plat suggests that the plat was drawn sometime after the revelation was dictated.A comparison of the plat and the plat of the city of Zion reveals several similarities and slight differences. Perhaps the most significant difference involves the three buildings in the Kirtland central block; the original “pattern” on the plat of the city of Zion called for twenty-four buildings (temples and storehouses) in its three central blocks. The general arrangement of the two cities, including the dimensions of the blocks and lots, is similar. The Kirtland plat detailed a seven-by-seven block grid with twenty half-acre lots in each of the forty-nine blocks, with the exception of the center block, which had fourteen individual lots and reserved the remaining three acres for the three aforementioned buildings, making 974 individual lots in total. In contrast, the original plat had 976 individual lots, and though it too was arranged in a seven-by-seven block grid, it had a central row of blocks that were larger, each containing thirty-two lots. In Kirtland, the roads (identified by faint orange watercolor on the plat) were to be reduced in width from eight rods (132 feet), as proposed for the city of Zion, to four rods (66 feet), with one exception being a road measuring six rods (99 feet) wide, running north to south on the east side of the temple lot. Along this road, the plat calls for an additional two rods, either to add to the width of that central road or to indicate how far back from the road the structures were to be set.The plat map was an evolving document. While the map was originally drawn with blocks, lots, streets, and the three central buildings, names assigned to or associated with individual lots were added and altered. Some of these additions and emendations are in the hand of , probably reflecting his responsibility as described by the 4 June 1833 revelation to divide the lots among church members for inheritances. Some of the names in the lots are written in graphite and others in ink. The text on the plat demonstrates that lot assignments were made and occasionally changed through at least the mid-1830s.When lots were assigned to individuals is largely unclear. For instance, lot 107 bears the name of , who arrived in from the , Vermont, area in October 1833. His later autobiography and journal indicate that he first rented a house and then built one “the next season.” Thus Ames could have obtained lot 107 as early as October 1833, but perhaps he acquired it when he began building his house the next year. When others were assigned lots, however, is clearer. In accordance with instructions found in the 2 August 1833 revelation, for example, and were given lots 111 and 112, the first and second available lots in the city block north of the central block, and was assigned lot 15, the first lot in the city block immediately south of the central block.At the time drew this plat, few roads existed in and church leaders were busily engaged in purchasing the land surrounding the . Kirtland Township was not incorporated and therefore there was no city planning commission or other entity overseeing the town’s development. Church leaders may have seen this situation as an opportunity to develop the town unimpeded by purchasing more of the surrounding land. While this plat appears to neglect geographical features and the township’s existing structures, it does leave open the first two lots on the north of the temple block—land that was then occupied by a Methodist Episcopal church building—perhaps as an acknowledgment that the structure would remain in the city. The effort to reconfigure Kirtland evolved slowly, and the township remained a work in progress through 1837, after which JS departed Kirtland for .The plat is presented here by first transcribing the cardinal directions and inscriptions found within the streets. The text that appears in each block is then transcribed, one block at a time, starting in the upper left side of the plat at the northwesternmost block and moving down each column, with columns running from left to right. For blocks that have only lot numbers and no other text, the span of lot numbers is given in square brackets instead of transcribing each lot number individually. Some of the personal names and initials written onto the lots on the plat are not identifiable. Names that are identifiable or possibly identifiable based on records of residency in the mid-1830s are noted. Images of the full plat are oriented north-end up.
Ames, Ira. Autobiography and Journal, 1858. CHL. MS 6055.
Parkin, Max H. “Joseph Smith and the United Firm: The Growth and Decline of the Church’s First Master Plan of Business and Finance, Ohio and Missouri, 1832–1834.” BYU Studies 46, no. 3 (2007): 5–66.
Plat of Kirtland, OH, ca. 1837. CHL. MS 2569.