During 1836 and 1837, nearly all of Eliza’s family moved to Kirtland, including her older sister, Leonora, her parents, Oliver and Rosetta Snow, and their two youngest sons. Eliza recalled that “I . . . was happy in an association with the Saints, fully appreciating their enlarged views and rich intelligence from the fountain of Eternal Truth, through the inspiration of the Most High; and was present on the ever memorable occasion of the Dedication of the Kirtland Temple. . . . In that Temple, after its dedication, I witnessed many manifestations of the power of God.” Her testimony of Joseph Smith continued to increase during this time: “[I] had ample opportunity to mark his ‘daily walk and conversation,’ as a prophet of God; and the more I became acquainted with him, the more I appreciated him as such. His lips ever flowed with instruction and kindness.”
As she would do again in Nauvoo, Eliza taught school in Kirtland. In the spring of 1836, she was employed at “a select school for young ladies” while boarding with the Prophet’s family. She again “resided in the family of Joseph Smith, and taught his family school” when she returned to settle in Kirtland in 1837. Along with consecrating her talents to the cause of the restored gospel, Eliza consecrated her means. When she moved out of her parents’ home, they gave her inheritance to her, and she chose to donate it to the building of the Kirtland Temple. “I went into the united order and all I possessed went in,” she recalled many years later in speaking to the Relief Society in Brigham City. “I had money; I sent for the building committee of the Kirtland Temple[,] asked if they wanted money[;] they felt very thankful.”
Eliza’s younger brother Lorenzo, a student at Oberlin College and not yet a Latter-day Saint, wrote to her on March 12, 1836, “I am delighted in learning that you enjoy so much happiness in Kirtland.” A short time later, at Eliza’s invitation, Lorenzo visited Kirtland, where he joined with Joseph Smith and other Church leaders in the study of Hebrew at the School of the Prophets. “While studying a dead language,” Eliza wrote later, “he also studied the eternal principles of a living faith.” He was baptized in June 1836. This beloved brother eventually became an apostle and, in 1898, was sustained as the fifth president of the Church. Eliza’s and Lorenzo’s devotion to each other and their shared testimony were enduring joys in the lives of both.
The Snows did not stay long in Kirtland, however. As the Latter-day Saints’ increasing political power in the township rankled longtime residents, and as Church leaders’ failed attempt to operate a bank worsened rather than eased the city’s economic distress, the community quickly unraveled. Eliza later described the apostasy that tore the community apart:
For see, ah, see! in yonder eastern land—
In Kirtland City, a promiscuous band,
Where wheat and tares to such a height had grown
That Saints could scarce from hypocrites be known!
In January 1838, pressed from both outside and within the Church, the Prophet and other leaders fled for their lives to Missouri. The Snows were among approximately sixteen hundred Saints who migrated to northern Missouri, settling initially in Daviess County. In July 1838, Oliver Snow purchased fertile land and a “double log house” at Adam-ondi-Ahman. In May 1838, Joseph Smith had given the settlement this name, meaning “the place where Adam shall come to visit his people, or the Ancient of Days shall sit.”