Saturday, August 31, 2013

Mormons at the Jersey Shore

I like to consider myself an amateur historian of all things Jersey Shore (the place, not the MTV reality show).  Before I die I want to write a book about this place.  It will probably be more nostalgia than history, but who cares.

Christopher Jones of The Juvenile Instructor (and other blogs) knows of my fascination for all things Jersey Shore and called my attention to his post on Joseph Smith's 1840 missionary visit to what today is Highlands (near Sea Bright).  Here is a taste:

A couple of weeks ago, my wife, kids, and I closed out our summer vacation with a quick trip “down the shore” (we’d been staying with my in-laws in northern New Jersey, and I’ve been assured that’s the preferred terminology of locals for what the rest of America calls “going to the beach.”) Thanks to the wonderfully helpful research of our own Steve Fleming, I knew that Mormonism’s history in the Garden State dated back to the late 1830s, but I wasn’t sure if there was much activity along the Jersey Shore. Re-reading Steve’s article, along with a short piece in the April 1973 issue of The Ensign by Stanley B. Kimball (hey, remember when The Ensign used to publish short historical essays by actual historians? That was awesome.), I learned that not only did Mormonism’s history there date back to the 1830s, but that Joseph Smith himself preached in the region.