In my recent publication ‘The First Vision – The Joseph Smith Story’ (also available to read free on my web site here), I mention the fact that in his 1838 ‘Official Version’, Joseph Smith claimed to have had his 1820 Vision in Manchester, two years after his family moved there from Palmyra. They actually still lived in Palmyra at that time and did not move to Manchester until 1822, two years after the claimed event. The Church appears to be aware of the discrepancy, as it tries to cover the problem by pretending Palmyra and Manchester were effectively in the very same place.
On the Mormon ‘Scripture’ website there is a ‘Chronology of Church History’.
[EDIT: The link has subsequently been removed and just responds: ‘Page not found’. New links do not include such detail. Clearly the Church has realised it is too much of a stretch to claim such a thing. The following therefore no longer appears as it once did].
Under ‘1820, Early Spring’ you will find this statement.
“The Prophet Joseph Smith received the First Vision in a grove of trees in Palmyra and Manchester Townships, New York, near his home (see JS—H 1:15–17).”
Note that it says “in a grove of trees in Palmyra” – and then adds “and Manchester…”
Yet this is what JS—H 1:15-17 really says:
“In about four years after my father’s arrival in Palmyra he moved with his family into Manchester, in the same county of Ontario.” Smith goes on to say the vision occurred “some time in the second year after our removal to Manchester.” This is a very clear and specific statement by Smith.
There is no mention of Palmyra and Manchester as the Mormon ‘Chronology of Church History’ suggests. Palmyra and Manchester were actually several miles apart and were not connected townships coexisting in the very same location. Smith categorically states where it was and does not suggest trekking the several miles back to Palmyra in order to have his vision. Why would he? He could not have been in a grove of trees in Palmyra and Manchester at the same time as the Church now appears to claim.
It is this kind of surreptitious manipulation of words that assists Mormons to gloss over the facts and not dig down to discover the underlying truth. Obfuscating the truth is far easier than explaining it. It is a subtle way of ‘lying for the Lord’ – a game the Mormon Church has played continuously throughout its history.