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Radical Origins: Early Mormon Converts and Their Colonial Ancestors Hardcover – May 12, 2004
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To my knowledge, an attempt of this kind has never been made before, at least not on this scale. And it would be safe to say that Rust succeeds quite nicely with his hypothesis. While those unfamiliar to Mormonism may find find some of the references to earliest Mormon history a little arcance, there is no denying that he makes a compelling case for a people prepared to receive a restoration of the gospel. A 40-page appendix gives ther names of all 583 early converts in this study, together with their known ancestors through five generations.
This is the kind of work that reshapes our view of history and encourages us to look in a different direction for an historical understanding of those spiritual forces that drive us all. We need more research of this kind.
US westward migration was influenced by War of 1812 land grants and bad weather in New England, especially the "year without summer" in 1816. I would have liked to have seen more information about early Mormons' links to these stressful events. Early converts were perhaps destined to be receptive to a new ideas, as Rust shows, but land grants and poor crop weather also may have provided strong influence for a fresh start.
My family is not Mormon. An ancestor's older brother was an early Mormon, baptized in 1831. Both were born in VT, lived in upstate NY, and moved to OH, my ancestor before his brother. The brother and his family lived in Kirtland, OH, and Nauvoo, IL, before eventually settling in UT. One of his sons helped Mormons to settle in UT. I sometimes wonder why only one brother and his family joined the LDS. Rust's book doesn't answer my questions, of course, but it does provide interesting information on the brothers' shared times and history. I'm glad to have the book in my genealogy collection.