Mormon leader fled after his bank failed

Cincinnati Enquirer/January 12, 2003

On Jan. 12, 1838, Joseph Smith, founder of the Mormons, fled Ohio and headed for Missouri after the failure of his bank, the Kirtland Safety Society Anti-Banking Co.

Smith had moved to Kirtland in eastern Ohio in 1830 to escape persecution of his religious sect in New York. He built a temple in Kirtland in addition to the bank, which he operated despite failing to procure a state charter. A panic sparked the failure of the bank and several lawsuits by investors.

Smith and other church leaders left Kirtland to settle in Caldwell, Mo., causing a disintegration of the Mormon community in Ohio. Clashes with other settlers forced them to leave Missouri as well, and they migrated to Utah.

The state of Ohio found Smith guilty in absentia and fined him $1,000, but he filed bankruptcy in Missouri and never paid the fine.

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