Question: What two important cities did Alanson Ripley help survey for the Prophet Joseph?
Answer: Alanson Ripley was born January 8, 1798 in New York to Asa Ripley and Mary Polly Deforest. Alanson was converted to The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints by Simeon Carter. By 1834, Alanson was living in Kirtland, Ohio, where he married Sarah Finkle.
Alanson served in Zion's camp in 1834. Sarah Ripley traveled with her husband in the Prophet Joseph’s detachment. Records of Zion’s camp list her simply as Mrs. Ripley but other records of the time reveal her first name. She is mentioned in Heber C. Kimball’s record of his experience at Salt River as he attempted to wash his clothes.
Alanson, along with others, surveyed the two-mile area of Adam-ondi-Ahman for the village, complete with streets, shops, houses, and a Stake. Alanson and Sarah’s first son was born in Missouri in 1837. The city/Village of Adam-ondi-Ahman was later purchased by John Cravens, who renamed the town "Cravensville." Today the Church owns about 3,000 acres, including the old city location, and is maintained as farmland and a historic site.
Alanson was ordained a Seventy on July 7, 1838. “Two days after Joseph Smith arrived in Quincy, Illinois, on April 24, 1839, Joseph presided over a council of the leading Mormons at which time the Prophet Joseph, Bishop Knight and Alanson Ripley were authorized to ‘visit the Iowa territory immediately for the purpose of making a location for the Church.’ It was during this visit that Joseph approved of the site for what would later become the City of Nauvoo.
“On April 30, 1839, Mormon leaders closed deals which procured for the church its first lands in Illinois. The first of these purchases was that of Hugh White’s farm, sometimes described as containing some 135 acres. In reality the total acreage amounted to only 123.4 acres. The land was deeded to Alanson Ripley, with the understanding that it would be turned over to the church...Ripley subsequently (March 23, 1840) deeded the land to Joseph Smith and his heirs.” Joseph Smith and his family moved into this home in May 1839 while it was still in Alanson Ripley’s name. Today it is known as the Homestead and it is one of the oldest structures in Nauvoo.
In 1841 in Nauvoo, “In the next few sessions of the city council, other appointments were made in various city offices: Alanson Ripley was named city surveyor...” (Nauvoo, The City of Joseph, by David E. Miller and Della S. Miller, p. 26-27, 54)
One of the streets in Nauvoo was, and is today, known as Ripley Street—which runs east to west and is the street south of Mulholland Street, one block south of the Temple.
Alanson served as Bishop in the Iowa territory from 1839 to 1841. Records indicate that Sarah and Alanson Ripley later lived in the Nauvoo 4th Ward along with their children. Alanson and his wife Sarah were endowed in the Nauvoo Temple on January 23, 1846.
Alanson is listed as dying April 2, 1853 in Montgomery County, Missouri. The location of his burial is not known at this time. His wife, Sarah, apparently stayed in Illinois and lived with her son, Milo.
Source: Ensign, April 1979, “The Way It Looks Today.” In the Ensign’s continuing tour of Church history sites, we move this month to Missouri, one of the most beautiful---yet at times the most troubled---locales in our past. Max H Parkin, of the LDS Institute adjacent to the University of Utah, accompanied Eldon K. Linschoten to photograph these sites, provided material for the captions, and wrote “Missouri’s Impact on the Church,” p. 56; LDS Membership Records; FamilySearch.org; Nauvoo, The City of Joseph by David E. Miller and Della S. Miller; Journal Article, A Missionary Family: Mormon Lives of the Carter Clan of Benson, Vermont Allen LeBaron.