On August 23, 1970, the first Mormon “stake” in West Virginia was organized in Charleston. It was an important milestone because it demonstrated that the Mormon religion had grown significantly in West Virginia.
The first Mormon missionaries in present West Virginia had entered Cabell County in 1832—just two years after Joseph Smith organized the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. That year, more than 40 individuals were baptized in Cabell County. But, for most of the 1800s, Mormon converts generally traveled to the church’s headquarters in Utah, which left few, if any, Mormons in West Virginia.
A permanent Mormon presence in our state began in 1886 with the creation of the West Virginia Conference, which brought a small, but steady, increase in converts. Unfortunately, this growth often produced distrust and hostility toward Mormons. Missionaries were beaten and shot at; meetings were disturbed by angry mobs; and members were ridiculed and harassed.
But the Mormon population in the Mountain State increased steadily during the 20th century, reaching nearly 2,500 by 1930. Today, there are some 13,000 Latter-day Saints in West Virginia.