Mormons in the Midwest, 1830-1846

1996, The 150th Anniversary of the Mormon Exodus from Nauvoo, Illinois

Excerpted from Volume 2, Discover! America's Great River Road by Pat Middleton. For the personal use and enjoyment of our readers. May not be reposted, reprinted or reproduced in any way without permission. Pat Middleton

Table of Contents

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Brief Time Line of the Mormons in Missouri and Illinois

All rights reserved. c Pat Middleton,  Discover! America's Great River Road, Volume 2
To Order Volume 1 (St. Paul to Dubuque), Volume 2 (Dubuque to St. Louis), or Volume 3 (St. Louis to Memphis) or Vol 4 (Memphis to the Gulf

(St. Louis to Memphis), please call 800-747-BOOK.

1805
Joseph Smith born in Sharon, Vermont. Family moves to Palmyra, New York, in 1815.
1823
While living in Palmyra, Smith discovers the "Golden Plates" near Manchester, New York
1830
The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints is formed in Manchester
1831
The Saints (Mormons) begin migrating into the state of Missouri.
1833
Smith moves his headquarters to Missouri. The Mormons settle first Independence then several other new towns.
1839
Mormons brutally driven from Missouri. 6000 Mormons make a winter crossing of the Mississippi to Quincy, Illinois. Move to swampy deserted townsite of Commerce, Illinois
1844, June 27
Discontent with Joseph Smith's consolidation of power and the introduction of poligamy begin to affect even the Mormon population. The split results in the destruction of THE EXPOSITOR, an opposition newspaper. Smith and the Nauvoo City Council are charged with inciting a riot and Smith and his brothere, Hyrum, are jailed. Two days later, Joseph Smith and his brother are assasinated by a mob at the county jail in Carthage, Illinois.

Click here to see sketch of Nauvoo, Illinois.

1845
Nauvoo is the 10th largest city in the United States, only slightly smaller than Chicago. Increasing strife with Illinois neighbors forces preparations to exodus the city for an unknown western destination.
1846, February
Brigham Young, president of the church's governing body, begins the largest, most successful mass exodus in American History.


The Exodus of Mormons from Nauvoo, Illinois, to the Great Salt Lake Basin. 1845-1846

All Rights Reserved. c Pat Middleton, Discover! America's Great River Road, Volume 2

Click here to see Map of the Mormon Trail, Nauvoo, Illinois, to the Great Salt Lake Basin.

Map of the Mormon Trail. More settlers moved west along the Mormon Trail than across either the California or Oregon trails. Even the numbers who moved to California during the Gold Rush Days did not equal the number of Mormons who moved to the Great Salt Lake Basin.

During the winter of 1845-46 intense preparations were made to prepare the Mormon community of Nauvoo, Illinois, to move west of the Mississippi River. All dwellings, including the temple, were transformed into workshops. By spring, thousands of wagons had been built and supplied.

Relations with neighboring Gentiles had become so acrimonious that it was decided an immediate exodus was necessary. In February of 1846 Brigham Young, then president of the Mormon church's governing body, directed the greatest, most successful mass exodus in American history.

Not all Mormons followed Young's contingent, however. Several groups dispersed elsewhere. Emma Smith and her group stayed along the Mississippi in Wisconsin, Iowa, and Illinois and eventually formed the Reorganized Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. Click here to visit web site with a history of Latter Day Saints in Wisconsin.



The Mormon Trail from Nauvoo, Illinois

The departure of the first several thousand Mormons across the Mississippi River to Montrose, Iowa, is often equated with the Red Sea crossing in the Biblical Exodus story. The first wagons were sent on rafts amid floating ice. Before everyone had crossed, however, the ice froze solid and many Mormons walked or rode across the river.

The Mormons spread out for 1,400 miles from Council Bluffs, Iowa, (thus avoiding Missouri) to the Great Salt Lake Basin. Now officially designated as the Mormon Pioneer Trail, this National Historic Trail with 73 historic sites is maintained by te National Park Service. It begins in Nauvoo, Illinois, and terminates at the Pioneer Trail State Park in Salt Lake City, Utah.

Mormons at the front planted crops and constructed shelters for those who followed. When money for funding the exodus ran low, the last three thousand families were issued pushcarts instead of wagons. Each family physically pushed five hundred pounds of belongings and supplies across the western plains.

The last groups found supply stations stripped and, as winter set in, many simply froze to death along the route. Upon arriving in the Great Basin, further difficulties met the immigrants. The arid land could not support crops, so technologies learned with draining Nauvoo, Illinois, were reversed to provide water for irrigation. Entire herds of cattle froze to death in sudden blizzards. Insects devoured crops.

Along the way, 500 men were mustered into the Mexican War, entering Mexico near modern day Douglas, Arizona. They then followed the Pedro River north to participate in the California Gold Rush at Sutter's Mill before rejoining their brethren in the Great Salt Lake Basin. During Brigham Young's administration as the Second President of the Church of Latter Day Saints, over 70,000 people from the U.S.A., Europe and Canada settled in Utah. Three hundred cities and town were established.

The Mormons literally moved the community of Nauvoo one thousand miles past the limits of civilization at that time. The skilled tradesmen, craftsmen, artists, and professionals provided a way-station in the middle of the wilderness which enabled many other immigrants to reach the west coast who might otherwise have succeeded. Brigham Young developed a doctrine for water use that is now used throughout the arid west from Arizona to the Dakotas and California.

In 1950 a statue of Brigham Young was placed in the American Hall of Fame in the Rotunda of the Capitol in Washington, D.C. where Young was honored as the great colonizer.



Many more historic sites in Nauvoo are described in Volume 2, Discover! America's Great River Road. To review books available from Heritage Press, click here.
To order books from Heritage Press call 800-747-BOOK, or click here.
Thank you very much.




Tourism Contacts in the Nauvoo Area

 

 

Iowa's Mormon Trail School District Project (looks good!)
Mormon Island State Recreation Area (a winter camp on the Mormon Trail)
Mormon History Resource Directory (Lots of links with a historical slant!)
More links!
Nauvoo travel link
Map of towns in Hancock County, Illinois
A Virtual Tour of Nauvoo , Illinois

 

 


The Icarians

All Rights Reserved. c Pat Middleton Discover! America's Great River Road, Volume 2

 

 

After the 1846 exodus of the Mormons from Nauvoo, the Icarians, a communal group lead by Etienne Cabet, moved into the town in 1849. The Icarian community was short-lived. Although they also established communities in Corning, Iowa, St. Louis, and California, by 1898 the group had disintegrated.

Today we still enjoy Rhubarb pie, which was introduced by the Icarians. An Icarian architect, A.J. Piquenard, designed both the Illinois and Iowa state capitol buildings.

Many of the Icarians were French nationals who began the cultivation of grapes in Nauvoo. The historic Baxter Vineyards is one of the last remnants of the wine making industry for which Nauvoo became famous. Emile Baxter joined the Icarians in 1855 and planted his vineyard in 1858. He remained in Nauvoo when the Icarians disbanded. His great, great grand-son now operates the oldest winery in Illinois.

THE ICARIAN LIVING HISTORY MUSEUM (located in the restored 1846 Mix House on East Parley behind Nauvoo State Park.) Open 2 to 5 p.m. April through November. Museum is devoted to French and Icarian culture in America. Artifacts date from 1849 to 1860.


Many more historic sites in Nauvoo are described in Volume 2, Discover! America's Great River Road. To review books available from Heritage Press, click here. Thank you very much.

Related Links

Iowa's Mormon Trail School District Project (looks good!)
Mormon Island State Recreation Area (a winter camp on the Mormon Trail)
Mormon History Resource Directory (Lots of links with a historical slant!)
More links!
Nauvoo travel link
Map of towns in Hancock County, Illinois
A Virtual Tour of Nauvoo , Illinois



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