Wednesday, March 25, 2009


Lauren Hotchkiss Roundy lived in Nauvoo, Hancock County, Illinois from about 1839 to 1846. Illinois was made a territory in 1809, and later gained statehood as the 21st state in 1818. Hancock County was created on January 13, 1825 and was formed from Pike County. The County was named after John Hancock, a prominent figure of the Revolutionary period, a Major General of the militia, President of the Continental Congress, and the first signer of the Declaration of Independence.
The city of Nauvoo was originally called Commerce. Commerce was a swampy area down by the Mississippi River, near the boarder of Illinois and Missouri. The Church bought the swampy land and drained it, so the members of the Church could move there. Nauvoo became a city in May of 1839, after the prophet Joseph Smith Jr. renamed the city Nauvoo (Greek meaning “beautiful place”). Latter Day Saints often referred to Nauvoo as "the city beautiful," or "the city of Joseph."
The smaller community of Commerce had few buildings so construction began promptly to meet the immediate demand for housing. Elements of Joseph Smith's generalized city plan, known as the "plat of Zion" (first introduced in 1833) were used in the street layout and lot allotments in Nauvoo. The community was characterized by wood frame homes with outbuildings, gardens, orchards and grazing plots on large lots laid out on an orderly grid system. In the spring of 1840, John C. Bennett, the Quarter Master General of the Illinois State Militia converted to Mormonism and became Joseph Smith's friend. John Bennett's experience with Illinois' government allowed him to help the Prophet craft a city charter for Nauvoo. Based closely on the Springfield, Illinois, charter, the document gave the city a number of important powers, including the establishment of municipal court, a university, and an independent militia unit. After the charter was passed, John Bennett was elected Nauvoo's first mayor. The city grew quickly as the members of the church gathered. At its height Nauvoo's population was the largest in the state with almost 20,000 people. Many new residents came from the British Iles, being new converts to the Mormon Church.
The members thrived in Nauvoo. Nauvoo was the home to a new and beautiful LDS temple. However, citizens in neighboring towns and counties began to grow weary of the Saints in Nauvoo. Soon mobs began to torment the Saints that lived in the outskirts of the city. Many attempts to take Joseph Smith from his home were unsuccessful, until a former LDS general authority, William Law, played an important role in acquiring a warrant for his arrest in 1844. Joseph Smith, along with his brother Hyrum, and two other Church Officials were taken to Carthage jail. Here they were assassinated by an angry mob.
After the death of Joseph Smith, the Saints remained in Nauvoo until they were ordered to move by the Illinois State government. In 1846, most of the Saints packed up their belongings and headed west to find a more peaceful settlement.

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