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"THE BURNED-OVER DISTRICT, which I think we can consider more as symbol than boundary, was a perfect setting for the rise of Mormonism. But it was much more than that, and it did not stop influencing Mormonism in 1829 or ‘30.  My proposition now is that some of the fires of that place and of its broader culture burned more brightly-'Mormon' than earliest Mormonism itself at first, at least as Mormonism was preached to the general body of Latter-day Saints.


Analogies based on fire appear frequently in the religious literature of the early nineteenth century.  The phenomena presented in my samplings below spread wherever fuel and receptacles provided - kindling, illuminating or consuming - in a variety of hues and patterns as diverse and unpredictable as the most capricious flames."

A World for Joseph Smith.

Rick Grunder

American revival scene in the woods.

Illustrated, 35 pages

CLICK HERE for free PDF download.

(2 MB)

A shorter version of this article was presented September 28, 2019 under title, “The Spirit, Like a Fire: A World for Joseph Smith” at the annual conference of the John Whitmer Historical Association held at Fairport, New York.  I explore most of the themes which are treated here in much greater depth in my Mormon Parallels: A Bibliographic Source (Lafayette, New York: Rick Grunder - Books, 2008; 2014), available in PDF at

Selected free entries from
A Bibliographic Source

Book of Mormon parallel names in Walker's Dictionary of the 1820s.

WALKER'S SCHOOL DICTIONARY  (abridged version with added interest)

Oliver Cowdery used the small abridged school version of Walker’s Dictionary in a letter he wrote on November 9, 1829, while living with the Smith family in Manchester, New York, during the printing of the Book of Mormon. The text of the letter was published in a periodical discovered by Erin B. Metcalfe in cooperation with H. Michael Marquardt.  See details and documentation in this future entry slated for the eventual MORMON PARALLELS SUPPLEMENT, at

Mormon Parallels entry 193Gilbert Hunt, THE LATE WAR.

Click to download free PDF:   (1 MB)

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