Nauvoo, Illinois

Nauvoo, Illinois

Principal gathering place for Saints following expulsion from Missouri. Beginning in 1839, Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints purchased lands in earlier settlement of Commerce and planned settlement of Commerce City, as well as surrounding areas. Served as church headquarters, 1839–1846. With post office name change in Apr. 1840, area was officially named Nauvoo (Hebrew for “beautiful”). City charter granted, Dec. 1840. Construction on Nauvoo temple began, Mar. 1841. Nauvoo House construction commenced, spring 1841; cornerstone laid, Oct. 1841. Population by 1846 about 15,000. Joseph Smith introduced many principles and institutions in Nauvoo, including plurality of gods, celestial marriage, temple endowments, proxy rituals for dead, Relief Society, Anointed Quorum, and Council of Fifty. Tension developed between Nauvoo Saints and neighbors in Hancock and surrounding counties. After Joseph and Hyrum Smith were murdered while in jail at Carthage, 27 June 1844, city charter repealed, 1845. Latter-day Saints in Nauvoo finished temple and received endowments, 1846. Majority of Saints, under leadership of Brigham Young, crossed Mississippi River, 1846, en route to Salt Lake Valley. Emma Smith and some Saints remained in Nauvoo. Population greatly decreased and Nauvoo became small town.

Retrieved with permission from The Joseph Smith Papers.