Friday, October 12, 2012

Illinois Trip: Nauvoo

Nauvoo is a small town in Illinois rich with our church's history.  With a population of a little over 1,000, it is located along the Mississippi River bordering Iowa and Illinois.  Carthage Jail is about 20 miles south of Nauvoo and also holds important events from the history of our church as mentioned in my previous post.  
The early members of the church were greatly persecuted and forced to move several times throughout the states of New York, Ohio, Missouri, and Illinois.

As the Latter-day Saints fled Missouri during the winter of 1838–1839, having been threatened by the governor of that state with extermination, they crossed into Illinois and settled in a swampy area along the Mississippi River that they named Nauvoo. Over the next few years, an estimated 16,000 Latter-day Saints took up residence in the city and its surrounding communities. It became one of the largest cities in Illinois at the time and an important commercial center on the upper Mississippi.
Latter-day Saints drained the swamps, wrote an ambitious city charter, established a university, mounted a city militia, and built a temple.  To Nauvoo and its vicinity came the great majority of all Latter-day Saint converts for the next seven years, swelling the population to about 20,000 by 1846. At its height it rivaled Chicago as the largest city in the state. A vibrant, culturally eclectic place, it came to be known as "Nauvoo, the Beautiful."
Many in the surrounding communities continued to harass the Latter-day Saints, and on 27 June 1844, a painted mob shot to death the Latter-day prophet, Joseph Smith, and his brother Hyrum. Despite the rapidly escalating tension in the area, the Latter-day Saints continued at great sacrifice to complete a temple in the city, even while they prepared for a mass exodus to the West. Between February and September 1846, most of the Latter-day Saints took up their march to the West, leaving their homes, their city, and their temple to the hands of those who had not built and the hearts of those who did not care.
Today Nauvoo is a significant historic district, with many of the buildings in the original townsite rebuilt or restored and open for the public to visit.

The church has put a lot of money into the restoration of Nauvoo.  Several of the historic Nauvoo sites are owned by the church and have been restored to what they would have looked like back in the early 1840s while the membership of the church was at it's greatest.  The church also has several missionaries serving throughout the different historic sites that answer questions, offer tours, and teach workshops centered on the early pioneer's lifestyles.  There are also several missionaries called to serve at the newly rebuilt Nauvoo temple, which is where Dallas' grandparents have been serving for the past several months. 
Our first full day in Nauvoo was filled with several of these restored sites.  Dallas and I spent the morning doing a temple session while my parents watched little Daxton.  It was the first time leaving him with anyone for an extended amount of time and he did wonderful, or so they say.  When we got back from the temple, Daxton was playing with grandpa and looking out the window while watching the people pass by.
After Daxton's afternoon nap, Grandma Eva took us around to some of the sites showing the history of the pioneers.  Some of these spots included the printing office, the blacksmiths, and brick making.
 While out visiting the different sites, we ran into our good friends from the bay area, the Johnson's.  Marie and I first became friends when we lived in the same apartment complex at BYU.  Then later, when Dallas and I moved to Pleasant Hill, I was surprised to find Marie and her family were also in the area.  It was fun to reconnect and see her gorgeous family grow.  A few months ago, her husband accepted a job in Minnesota, moving them to the midwest.  It was such a fun surprise to see them in Nauvoo and catch up again!  What a gorgeous and loving family!

Grandma Eva is such a sweetheart.
She is so full of life and embraces everything and everyone that crosses her path.  It was so much fun to have her show us around and take us to all the different sites.
One of my favorite spots to visit, is the Trail of Hope.
After the Prophet Joseph Smith and his brother, Hyrum, were killed in June of 1844, the saints were continually persecuted by surrounding communities.  It was decided that in order to pursue religious freedom they needed to move out west.  They hurried for the next couple years to complete the building of the Nauvoo temple and then made preparations to leave and settle in Utah.  They had to leave behind their homes and most of their belongings, only able to carry the necessary provisions needed for the trek.  There are several journal entries found and documented telling the story of these Latter-day saints.  The Trail of Hope follows the road they took out of Nauvoo leading to the Mississippi River crossing into Iowa.  Along this road the church has taken several of these journal entries and made plaques to honor the memories of so many sacrifices of the early pioneers.  It's such a humbling experience walking the half mile down to the river and reading the different stories along the way.  What faith and courage they had to leave behind everything they knew; their home.  
On the Trail of Hope, looking back towards the Nauvoo temple on the hill.
A replica of one of the corner pieces saved from the original Nauvoo temple.

Daxton was of course a doll, snuggling next to daddy and chewing on his carrier strap.  He would peak out of his blanket in between naps to smile for the occasional camera and allow us to give him kisses.
Standing along the Mississippi River.
It is in the middle of a drought filled summer, so the water level was very low.  It was weird to see the lilly pads sticking about the water, most drying in the hot sun.
Another tender location to visit while in Nauvoo were the grave sites of Joseph and his wife Emma Smith, Joseph's brother, Hyrum, and their parents, Joseph Smith Sr and Lucy Mack Smith.
It was such an amazing experience to be able to revisit these sites with Dallas and little Daxton.  Reflecting on all of the sacrifices made by the early members of the church, makes me appreciate more fully all that I've been given.  My life is truly blessed and I am so grateful, most especially for my loving family.
The little drool machine
Below is a picture of the outside of our hotel.
We stayed at the Wilfred Woodriff Hotel, which was a renovated hotel from the 1800s, three stories high, no elevator and we were staying on the top floor.  I wish I would have taken a picture of how narrow the staircases were.  It was such a nice place, but I have to admit that I was deathly afraid of carrying Daxton up and down those narrow stairs!  But you couldn't beat the was right across the street from the gorgeous Nauvoo temple.
Dallas' grandparents are serving a mission at the Nauvoo temple, so they were able to take us on a special tour.  It is such a gorgeous and peaceful place.  I absolutely loved our time we spent their and loved looking at all the remarkable detailing.
Here are just a few of my favorite pictures we took of the temple while staying in Nauvoo...
This statue is located at the front of the Nauvoo temple across the street.  It depicts the "Last Ride" that Joseph and Hyrum took together as they traveled to Carthage together.
After doing a session in the temple and exploring the rest of Nauvoo, we met up with Grandma and Grandpa Whitt for dinner.  We ate at the historic Nauvoo house and had the most yummy buffet of "comfort" foods, (i.e. mashed potatoes, gravy, roast beef, etc.)  When we got back to the house, mom was bragging about her super baby feeding skills.  Needless to say she was put to shame by Daxton's clever lips while eating carrots.  He loved being fed by grandma!
It was such a wonderful experience being able to see Grandma and Grandpa Whitt.  We love them so much and wish we could see them more often.  I know that Dallas wishes his mom, Elizabeth, were here to shower our little guy with kisses, although I bet she was the first to give him all those kisses up in heaven before he came down to us.  He's such a blessed little baby to be loved by so many.

No comments:

Post a Comment

FEEDJIT Live Traffic Feed