Wednesday, February 18, 2015

February 18, 2015

This winter in Nauvoo has been extremely mild, compared to last winter when the temperatures through the months of January and February were near zero and below! But you won't find us complaining, no siree. The downside, however, is that we haven't had enough snow to go sledding behind our horses--at least not until this past week. We had about eight to ten inches in many areas around Nauvoo, so we pulled the sled out of mothballs and hitched it up to Chad and Mick for a good ol' trip through the backcountry where "the horse knows the way to carry the sleigh!" It was great fun--though a little chilly--taking various missionaries for sleigh rides.

As you may recall, February 4, 1846, is when the Saints began their exodus from Old Nauvoo. It was a bitterly cold day. Though the temperature was chilly this year, it didn't compare with that day 169 years ago. Each year the missionaries serving here in Nauvoo reenact the Exodus in memory of those faithful Saints.

Before trekking down Parley Street, missionaries and visitors gathered in the Family Living Center for a small breakfast of juice and hot chocolate.

We then lined up the wagons behind the Nauvoo Legionaires.

Several missionaries carried flags representing the country of their ancestors who joined the Church.

The first carriage waits for President Gibbons, our Mission President. (Each of us teamsters and our wives were assigned to drive the various horse-drawn carriages and wagons in the procession.)

Jan and I were assigned to drive the freight wagon.

So, down Parley Street we went to the shore of the Mississippi, where the Saints began to cross the icy waters heading west.

At the end of Parley Street is the Exodus Memorial, whose walls have inscribed the names of the thousands who lost their lives crossing the plains.

At the Memorial, a brief program was held honoring the Saints who followed the prophet and set out to find a place where they could "plow their fields as [they] saw fit, worship as [they] wanted, and live life as [they] had a mind to." 

On Sunday evening, we closed out the Exodus week with a special program in which the stories of several Saints who had lived in Old Nauvoo were recounted. It was a wonderful conclusion to a week of remembering the faith and sacrifices of our forefathers who willingly gave so much so that we could have the gospel today. 

I actually found three of my ancestors--whom I didn't know about before--who lived here in Nauvoo and went west with the rest of the Saints. I was able to "represent" them on the Exodus by carrying a card for each one with some interesting tidbits of information about each one.  Jan walked for her fourth great grandmother, who died in Winter Quarters.  We shall be forever grateful to them for their courage, unselfishness, and faith.

Monday, February 9, 2015

February 4, 2015

Since our last posting, Jan and I went on a tour of the Martyrdom Trail with Dr. Craig Dunn. During the three-and-a-half-hour tour in his tour bus, Brother Dunn presented a wealth of information about the Prophet Joseph and his last 21days, beginning with the incident of The Expositor newspaper and ending at the Carthage Jail. Unfortunately, in this case, a picture was not worth a 1000 words--the narration was worth a 1000 pictures! Consequently, we have only a few pictures to share with you.
A little background.  The reason Joseph was arrested was that he was the mayor of Nauvoo and, with the city council, ordered the demolition of the press of the Nauvoo Expositor.  This was a newspaper brought to town by enemies of the Mormon saints and it's express purpose was to slander them.  They were hoping that the saints would retaliate so that charges could be pressed against them.  The council proclaimed it a public nusance and had it destroyed.  This was not uncommon at that time, but charges were brought against Joseph and the entire city council.  They went to two constables in town to answer for the charges and they were dismissed, but were told they had to go to Carthage and answer a third time.

This is the home of Aaron Johnson here in Nauvoo.  The Prophet was quite sure he was going to be murdered at Carthage, so attempted to flee across the river to Montrose with Hyrum, Willard Richards and Porter Rockwell.  They borrowed a boat from Johnson and arrived at Montrose at about 2 am on June 23.  He received word that Nauvoo was in a panic and that Emma wished him to return, and Illinois Governor Ford had promised him protection from the mobs, so they returned.  They left for Carthage the afternoon of Monday, June 24 1844.

This is a picture of the Joseph Smith farmhouse.  We didn't even know that it existed.  It is up on the bluff where his farm was located.  It was built with the Nauvoo red brick but has been plastered over.  Joseph would have ridden through his farm on his way to Carthage.

The route that Joseph and his company took to Carthage is mapped out and you can jump on your bike and take off through the fields.  It's about 18 miles long.

This is the Albert Fellows farm, located on the Carthage route.  He was a good friend to Joseph, and they stopped here for dinner on the way to the jail.  They didn't arrive in Carthage until late Monday night and stayed the night in a hotel.  Mobs were gathering throughout the town square, proclaiming that they would, "Kill all the damned Mormons."

Governor Ford is in Carthage, and it soon becomes apparent that he does not intend to protect Joseph and Hyrum.  He proclaims that, "Joseph and Hyrum were dangerous men in the community, and guilty of all that was alleged against them."  They are arrested and confined here in the jail in the debtor's cell on the bottom floor.  Mobs are milling all about, so the jailer moves them upstairs for their safety.  It is there, in that upstairs room, that they are killed.  Hyrum is killed first, John Taylor received a number of wounds in his legs, and Joseph is shot near the upstairs window  and falls back through it to the ground.

Statue of Joseph and Hyrum at Carthage jail.  Hyrum didn't have to go to Carthage, there were no charges against him.  He only went to be with his brother.

This is just an old house in Warsaw, but in the 1840's it was a bar.  Many of the mob that rushed the jail in Carthage were from Warsaw, and this is where they came to celebrate after the killings.  It is interesting that there is still a lot of animosity towards the Mormons in Warsaw.  


We have been delighted with the weather this winter; it has been a very mild and gentle one, compared to last year's. We've had only a few days of snow, and the temperature has averaged in the high teens and twenties, for the most part. In fact, we've had several days when it has reached into the forties. Last year the months of December through February were very frigid--many days below zero. Not knowing whether we would have more snow days this year--we're crossing our fingers!--we took a few pictures of snow-covered Old Nauvoo for your viewing enjoyment.

In the center of Old Nauvoo stands the Jonathan Browning Gun Shop and Home

Looking east, up Parley's Street. 
(Going the opposite direction, you head down to the Mississippi River, the path the Saints took as they left Nauvoo for their trek west beginning on this day--February 4th--in 1846. Can you imagine heading out across the snow-covered prairie in this kind of weather?!)

Looking west, down Kimball Street to Brigham Young's home

Last Monday Jan and I were the tour missionaries in the Jonathan Browning Home and Gunsmith Shop. This tends to be one of the favorite stops for the men who visit Old Nauvoo.

Of course, with this last snow storm, we had to clean the snow off the seats of our wagons and carriages before we could offer tours to our visitors--though, I have to tell you, there weren't many visitors who came to take a ride around the snow-covered streets of Old Nauvoo in this weather.

One of the activities that have kept us teamsters busy during the cold weather is remodeling our barn office and meeting room. We added on an eight-foot addition so that we would have room to have us all meet together during the summer months when we have about 25 or 26 of us here. It will be nice to have the extra room this summer!