Sunday, June 26, 2011

Nauvoo and Carthage, IL

This is also in non-Chicago Illinois, but it deserves its own post. In the 1840s, LDS leader Joseph Smith started a settlement here on the banks of the Mississippi as a haven for LDS church members who had been driven from Missouri at gunpoint. (Yes--the Missouri lawbooks carried a Mormon extermination order until 1973.) The site of Nauvoo was swampy and marshy. They drained it and built a permanent settlement, including many brick homes and also a temple on the hill. The city was second only to Chicago in size. However, in 1846, Joseph Smith and his brother were murdered by a mob and the decision was made to leave for the western US and to find a place where the people could live in peace. The temple was destroyed by a fire and a tornado. In the intervening years, a utopian commune tried to make a go of it there, and some wine growing has been tried as well. The modern town sits slightly off of the historical site and never regained its size and importance once the Mormons left. The LDS (and to a lesser extent, the Reorganized LDS church) have built up the area as a sort of historical park. Also in 2002, the temple was rebuilt and rededicated and is today a functioning temple. It's a beautiful and fascinating place to visit, especially considering that most homebuilding on the frontier (as it was in the 1800s) consisted of rough wooden homes. Possibly the large influx of settlers from Britain in the 1840s influenced some of the building styles?

The temple during a public open house in 2002, and a copy of a "sunstone" from the temple architecture (there are sun, moon, and star designs on it for architectural interest--the glory of God is like the sun):

Old newspaper office:

Possibly Brigham Young's house:

Nauvoo House. Joseph Smith lived here and also ran it as a hotel for people coming out to the "wild west" (that Illinois was at the time) to check out the area:

A bit of living history. You can watch people do handicrafts from yesteryear here.

The jail in nearby Carthage, where Joseph and Hyrum Smith were supposedly being kept to be safe from mobbers. Unfortunately, they broke through. Joseph and Hyrum were both killed, and others in the jail were wounded.

A monument commemorating the brothers stands outside:

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