An artifact acquisition at Liberty Hall in Lamoni, Iowa, didn’t get quite the coming-out party that leaders envisioned, but they’re still thrilled to have it.
The subject of this historic hubbub is a crib that recently made its return to Liberty Hall, the longtime home of President Joseph Smith III, who often is credited with setting the church on its course toward peace.
Liberty Hall, among the properties supported by the Community of Christ Historic Sites Foundation, was built in 1881 and served as the church’s headquarters into the 20th century.
The crib’s significance, however, far exceeds its age. It is possible that it was used by two of Bertha’s sons, Fred M. and Israel A., who later served as presidents of the RLDS Church (now Community of Christ).
“We are really excited to receive Bertha’s crib,” Site Director Steve Smith said. “We don’t know the exact year it was made, but I like to think all of her kids may have slept in the bed.”
Originally, a grand opening was scheduled April 5. The crib was to be a centerpiece of the event. Then the COVID-19 pandemic got in the way. Liberty Hall, along with the church’s other historic sites, was closed down.
Nonetheless, the crib, which will be displayed in Bertha’s bedroom, remains a cherished heirloom from the Smith family.
The crib was built by Mads Madison, Bertha’s father. When Liberty Hall received the gift, it was showing its age.
“Lloyd White, a woodworker here, gave it some tender, loving care,” Smith explained. “It needed some repair work; there were places where joints had dried out.”
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