Missionaries Samuel H. Smith and Reynolds Cahoon preached in the cities of Unionville, Madison and Vienna during the summer of 1831. Other missionaries came shortly thereafter, including Parley P. and Orson Pratt. The first branches were organized in September 1831, and the first conference was held on 29 November 1831. In 1832, when Joseph Smith and Newel K. Whitney were traveling between Vincennes and New Albany, Newel K. Whitney broke his leg in a carriage accident. Joseph Smith spent four weeks in Greenville taking care of Whitney until they could continue their journey to Kirtland.
In 1834, Zion’s Camp crossed Indiana on its way to Missouri. Although trouble was predicted by their enemies, members of the group passed through Indiana peacefully. In 1838, the Kirtland Camp, a group of seventies, and poorer people who had been left behind in Kirtland, also crossed Indiana.
Many early saints were from Indiana, including Elder David W. Patten of the Quorum of the Twelve. Between 1831 and 1843, missionaries baptized many and branches were established in more than 30 counties. However, with the Church’s exodus in 1846 from Nauvoo, Ill., little work was done in the area until later in the century.
In 1876, missionaries John Morgan and Joseph Standing preached in Indiana with limited success. Morgan was a native of the state, and later became Southern States Mission president. By 1882, one missionary reported 24 members in the state when Indiana became part of the Northwestern States Mission, which had been organized in 1878. The name was changed to the Northern States Mission in 1889. In 1898, Greene County members and missionaries built the first chapel in the state, which was used until 1923. Ten years later, 31 members of the Linton Branch in Greene County made a cross country trip to the Logan Temple to receive their temple blessings, a significant sacrifice of the Indiana saints.
Among early converts after the turn of the century were Edward and Anna Faulting of Indianapolis, in whose home meetings were held until 1910. At that time, a home was rented for Church services. Membership grew from 13 people to 10 families by 1913. The Indianapolis branch was organized that year with John L. Thomas as president. The branch met in rented halls until a meetinghouse was erected in 1927 and dedicated by President Heber J. Grant. In 1939, a second branch was organized in Indianapolis. Other branches in the state created as early as 1919 were in Linton, Peru and Evansville, and three years later in Terra Haute.
The first stake in Indiana, the Indianapolis Stake, was organized by Elder Spencer W. Kimball of the Quorum of the Twelve on 17 May 1959 with Philip F. Low as president. The stake included 2,162 members, two wards in Indianapolis and other wards in Bloomington, Columbus, Muncie, Purdue and Richmond, and branches in Kokomo, Anderson and Connersville.
The Great Lakes Mission, created in 1949 from the Northern States Mission, was renamed the Indiana Indianapolis Mission in 1974. Indiana members have supported the Louisville Kentucky Temple since its dedication in 2000. Curtis Ault, from Bloomington, Indiana, was called as the first temple president.
In 2002, there were 35,638 members. In 2005, membership reached 38,987.
Sources: Andrew Jenson, Encyclopedic History of the Church, 1941; Ellen Cox Clayton, Memories of Yesterday in Indiana, 1978; Charles N. Joray, Wending Our Way: A History of Mormonism in Kokomo and Howard County, 1846-1999, 1999; Martha Peterson Taysom, “Glory Is A-Comin’ Soon:” A History of Mormonism in Indiana, 1998; Arthur M. Richardson, The Life and Ministry of John Morgan, 1965; “Indianapolis Stake Carved from Mission,” Church News, May 23, 1959; “Zions Camp, Across Swamplands,” Church News, 5 September 1970, “Zions Camp, the First Prairie,” Church News, 12 September 1970.