To mark the passing of Stanley E. Whiting, the most recent president of the Church of Jesus Christ (Cutlerite), it seems appropriate in this installment of “Cemetourism” to remember the first, Alpheus Cutler.*
Alpheus Cutler’s grave is located at the site of Manti, Iowa, the first headquarters of the reorganized Cutlerite church. Once a bustling town, Manti is all but abandoned today — a victim of brinkmanship with the railroad. After Manti became an RLDS town, church leaders advised members to hold out for a good price for rail right-of-way. Rather than pay, the railroad skipped over Manti and founded a new town called Shenandoah. Over time, Manti’s residents moved to Shenandoah and even dragged many of Manti’s vacant buildings to the new town.
Now some of the last historic Cutlerite homes are falling into ruin and only the stagecoach station is in good repair. The most visible remains of the old Cutlerite town are a road, a memorial park, and a pioneer cemetery. The site is in Freemont County in the extreme southwest of Iowa — where Iowa, Nebraska, and Missouri meet. The first generation of Mormons had been promised that the Second Coming of Christ would occur in their lifetimes and they knew that the Kingdom would be built in Jackson County, Missouri. Cutler saw little reason to trudge across the Great Plains to live in Utah Territory only to have to trudge back when the call came. Missouri was unsafe for Mormon settlement, but Manti was just about as close as you could get: Jackson County was a quick steamboat ride down the Missouri River.