United States information: Iowa


Jan. 1, 2009: Est. population, 304,060,000; Members, 5,974,041; Stakes, 1,438; Wards, 11,289; Branches, 2,074; Districts, 12; Missions, 106;Temples in use, 62; under construction or announced, 7; Percent LDS, 2, or one in 51.

A few stakes and missions have headquarters in states other than that for which they are named. To simplify this listing, these stakes and missions are listed in the states for which they are named. Numbers preceding stakes and missions are their chronological numbers assigned at the time of creation. Letters are added if number has been used previously.

(* Stake name changed 14 Jan 1974 or as indicated otherwise.)


Jan. 1, 2009: Est. population, 3,003,000; Members, 23,519; Stakes 7; Wards 37;Branches 31; Missions, 1; Percent LDS, 0.8, or one in 128.

Following the expulsion of the Church from Missouri in 1838, Iowa Gov. Robert Lucas expressed sympathy for their plight and offered them refuge. Although Joseph Smith instead chose to go to what became Nauvoo, Ill., members also settled across the Mississippi River in Lee County, Iowa, in the cities of Montrose, Augusta, Keokuk, Nashville, and surrounding areas. They also established new settlements in Ambrosia and Zarahemla. In 1839, a stake was organized in Lee County, but it was changed to a branch three years later in 1842.

When the saints were driven from Nauvoo in February 1846, they crossed southern Iowa. Although the exodus occurred in three stages, it took the first company, of which Brigham Young was the leader, 108 days to travel 320 miles due to the rain and mud. En route, they planted grain and established Garden Grove, which today remains a farming community. Farther west, the refugees again farmed at a place they called Mount Pisgah. During the first year, the population of Mount Pisgah reached 2,000. The mortality rate there was very high due to the arduous conditions of the journey. The Mount Pisgah cemetery still remains with a monument erected in 1888. Another significant campsite was Locust Creek, where William Clayton penned "Come, Come Ye Saints."

The emigrating saints reached the eastern bluffs of the Missouri River on 14 June 1846 and established Kanesville, later called Council Bluffs. It was there on 13 July 1846 that nearly 500 men from the "Camp of Israel" were mustered in for military service into the Mormon Battalion. Thereafter, most of the saints moved across the Missouri River where they established Winter Quarters, Neb. In 1848, the U. S. government required the Mormons to move off Indian territory, so those not moving on to the Salt Lake Valley moved back across the river into Iowa. They repopulated Kanesville and established approximately 40 other nearby settlements. All temporary settlements were virtually abandoned in 1852 when Brigham Young hastened the migration to Salt Lake.

After returning to Winter Quarters in the fall of 1847, Brigham Young was formally sustained as president of the Church on 27 December in a log tabernacle in Kanesville. Three weeks earlier on 5 December, the Quorum of the Twelve had reorganized the First Presidency. The same month, President Young issued a general epistle calling upon members all over the world to gather in the Great Basin of the Rocky Mountains.

It was also at Kanesville that Oliver Cowdery, who had helped establish the restored gospel but later became estranged from the Church, rejoined the Saints. At a special conference 21 October 1848, he humbly asked for rebaptism, having earlier been excommunicated. He was rebaptized on 5 November by Orson Hyde and intended to join the migration to the Salt Lake Valley the following season. However, failing health prevented him from making the journey, and he died in Richmond, Mo., in 1850.

After 1848, Kanesville became an important staging area for thousands of Mormon and non-Mormon overland travelers. Many emigrants stopped in the Kanesville area to earn money and prepare for the long trip to Utah. Elders traveling east on missions also stopped in Kanesville. Emigrating saints stopping in southern Iowa built schools, hotels, mills, meeting halls, and a courthouse. By 1850, Kanesville had 350 homes, and Pottawattamie County was the sixth most-populated in Iowa. During 1853, pioneer companies continued to leave from Iowa, many outfitting in Keokuk. In 1856-1857, many handcart pioneers started their trek to the West from Iowa City, then the terminus of the railroad.

A few missionaries passed through southern Iowa during the 1850s and 1860s visiting isolated members in these areas on their way to the Eastern States. The first missionaries mentioned by name to serve in Iowa were Israel Evans and Nymphus C. Murdock, who arrived in 1869. Missionary visits increased in frequency during the 1870s. A branch was established in Keokuk in 1875 and in Council Bluffs in 1878. Iowa became part of the Northwestern States Mission at its organization in 1878. Between 1887 and 1896, headquarters of the mission were located in Council Bluffs. In 1889, the mission name was changed to the Northern States Mission. At that time the Iowa Conference included the states of Iowa, Nebraska, Kansas, Wisconsin, and Minnesota. By 1930, Iowa had branches in Ames, Boone, Sioux City, and Davenport.

In July 1946, President George Albert Smith led a party along the Mormon Pioneer Trail stopping at historic sites and centennial celebrations along the way.

Iowa remained in the Northern States Mission until 1960 when it was transferred to the Central States Mission. In 1954, Elder Hugh B. Brown, then Assistant to the Twelve, dedicated chapels for branches in Des Moines and Cedar Rapids. The first permanent stake in Iowa, the Cedar Rapids Stake, was created in 1966. The Des Moines Stake followed in 1970. For a short time, Iowa became part of the Missouri Independence Mission, until it was reassigned to the Iowa Des Moines Mission in 1976.

During the summer of 1993, Iowa experienced severe flooding along the Mississippi River. Iowa saints responded quickly by helping to place sandbags around homes and businesses. Stakes and wards were able to meet the needs of their members and to assist their neighbors as water supplies were shut off and many homes were evacuated.

Beginning in the late 1970s, appreciation for the contributions of the early Iowa Saints increased as local members cooperated with other Iowa residents to preserve early Church historic sites and the Mormon Trail. Elder Mark E. Petersen of the Quorum of the Twelve dedicated a monument to the handcart pioneers in Iowa City on 1 August 1980. A decade later, a marker commemorating the hymn "Come, Come Ye Saints" was dedicated at Locust Creek Campsite #2 in July 1990. Efforts at restoration and remembrance culminated in 1996 at the sesquicentennial observation of the Iowa portion of the saints' journey from Nauvoo to Council Bluffs. The celebration included an Iowa Mormon Trails History Symposium, a re-enactment of the exodus from Nauvoo, a Grand Encampment near Council Bluffs, a re-enactment of the Mormon Battalion mustering, and two wagon trains and one handcart company tracing the path of the Mormon Trail through Iowa. President Gordon B. Hinckley spoke at a devotional during the Grand Encampment and dedicated the reconstructed Kanesville Tabernacle. The tabernacle is now owned and operated by the Church, and in 2003, a bronze statue of Brigham Young and the newly reorganized First Presidency was placed outside the building.

In 2002, membership reached 19,298. In 2005, membership reached 22,105.

Sources: Andrew Jenson, Encyclopedic History of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, 1941; Daniel H. Ludlow (ed.). Encyclopedia of Mormonism, 1990; Dell Van Orden. "Mormon Battalion Mustering," Church News, 20 July 1996; Dell Van Orden. "Tabernacle of Log Replicated, Dedicated," Church News, 20 July 1996; "Devotional Honors Epic Pioneer Saga," Church News, 20 July 1996; "Elder Hugh B. Brown Dedicates 6 Chapels," Church News, 5 June 1954; Greg Hill, "Members Quick to Respond in Midwest Floods," Church News, 17 July 1993; Henry A. Smith, "President's Party Ends Pioneer Trail Journey," Church News, 27 July 1947; "Handcart Camp Dedicated in Iowa as Historic Site," Church News, 9 August 1980; Journal History, Church History Library; Kevin Stoker, "Prophet Visits Area of Father's Mission," Church News, 17 October 1987; "Members Help Provide Relief in Flood-Ravaged Iowa," Church News, 7 August 1993; Miriam Beck, "Two Monuments Memorialize Pioneer Legacy," Church News, 19 July 1997; R. Scott Lloyd. "150 Years Ago Converts Camped at Keokuk," Church News, 7 June 2003; R. Scott Lloyd. "Bronze Sculpture Honors 1847 Leaders," Church News, 27 September 2003; R. Scott Lloyd. "Iowans Honor Saints' Trek Across 12 of Their Counties," Church News, 30 March 1996; R. Scott Lloyd. R. Scott Lloyd. "Wagon Trains Re-enact Crossing," Church News, 13 July 1996; "Saints' Crossing of State Remembered," Church News, 11 May 1996; Susan Easton Black and William G. Hartley (eds.). The Iowa Mormon Trail, 1997; "Trails Group Plans to Rebuild Church's 1847 Log Tabernacle," Church News, 18 December 1993; William G. Hartley. "Pushing on to Zion," Ensign, August 2002.

Stakes — 7

(Listed alphabetically as of Oct. 1, 2009.)

No. / Name / Organized / First President

North America Central Area

2053 / Ames Iowa / 21 May 1995 / Robert Blaine Schafer

419 / Cedar Rapids Iowa

Cedar Rapids (Iowa, Illinois) / 29 May 1966 / Richard F. Hagland

2525 / Council Bluffs Iowa / 25 Apr 1999 / Maury Wintle Schooff

902 / Davenport Iowa / 9 Apr 1978 / James Earl Campbell

525 / *Des Moines Iowa

Des Moines / 6 Sep 1970 / Donald G. Woolley

2595 / Iowa City Iowa / 10 Jun 2001 / Cordell E. Jeppsen

2157 / Sioux City Iowa / 21 Jan 1996 / David W. Roper

Stakes discontinued

3a Iowa [Zarahemla] / 5 Oct 1839 / John Smith

Discontinued 6 Jan 1842

Mission — 1

(As of Oct. 1, 2009; shown with historical number.)


8515 Douglas Ave., Ste.19

Des Moines, IA 50322

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