Sunday, September 9, 2012

LDS History Tour (part 3)

This post is a continuation of pictures and commentary from our recent tour of historic sites of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. You can see the first post here; the second post here. If you are unfamiliar with the Church, a great website to explore is, where you can learn what we believe, what we are all about, meet members, and find answers to common questions. As always, feel free to ask us questions as well!

We allowed ourselves two full days in Nauvoo, IL on our trip, and I am very glad we did. Even still, we didn't see everything we had hoped to!

Nauvoo was Joseph Smith's "City Beautiful" and a gathering place for the Latter-day Saints from 1839 to 1845. The Saints relocated to Illinois after experiencing persecution, mob violence and eventually an extermination order in Missouri. Nauvoo, along the Mississippi River, started out as a swamp, but through faith, prayers, and a lot of hard work, it was transformed into a bustling community. The Saints even built a temple! More information about the history of the Church in Nauvoo can be found in the Institute manual Church History in the Fulness of Times, chapters 17 and 19.

We enjoyed several really tasty meals in Nauvoo, and had to laugh at the creativity and humor of the business owners there:

"Buy our pizza, we knead the dough"
"Do not block door: violators will have their cars ticketed, towed, sold for parts. What's left will be crushed, melted down, and turned into rebar." The little sign to the right says "Last car parked here. Rest of car is reinforcing Blimpie's parking lot" and is pointing to some scraps of rebar :o)
On an ice cream/custard shop: "Sundae... closed. Mondae...(etc.)". Their vanilla custard was delish.
We were able to see the Nauvoo Pageant while we were there. The pageant plays every summer for about a month. It is extremely well done, and if you ever get a chance to visit Nauvoo, I would invite you to go during pageant season so you can see this magnificent play! It tells the story of Nauvoo, Joseph Smith, and the Saints.

If you've been counting, you know this is the third Church pageant we've seen this year. I would say it was my favorite. It also is around several weeks longer each year than the others we saw. One of my favorite things about it was how interactive the stage was! For instance, the actors "built" this temple during the play:

Another favorite part was the end, when the actual temple was illuminated, on the hill behind where the pageant is held:

Historic Nauvoo is so cool. Visiting there is like stepping back in time. The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints has basically rebuilt or restored a bunch of important buildings of the time - such as the blacksmith shop, the brickyard, the gun shop, and a few homes - and the public can tour the various buildings. The tour guides are missionaries (young and old), dressed in pioneer garb.

The spirit here is one of gratitude for the early Saints and of faith in God and in His plan for eternal families. I enjoyed the historical information, but even more, I enjoyed the lessons from the lives of stalwart individuals and the applications to our lives.

Most of the rest of the pictures in this post are in chronological order. We saw the pageant on Friday night, and the rest of our sightseeing was done on Saturday and Sunday.

The Family Living Center was one of our first stops. In this building, missionaries narrate and demonstrate various handicrafts of the pioneers. Some skills were common knowledge at the time, and necessary to keep a household running; other trades were learned over the course of years.

Making candlesticks fell into the category of "common knowledge" in the 1800s. Fat was boiled for days and then cotton wicks, tied around small rocks, were dipped over and over again to form tall, straight candles. The rocks were cut off when the candles were thick enough, and the tallow on the rocks was allowed to re-melt in the pot.
Coopering - or making barrels - was a skilled craft, which required apprenticeships of several years in order to master the trade. Barrels were sold with no openings - they had to be drilled in after they were made. The most skilled coopers were able to make water-tight barrels.
In addition to touring the many sites available, we saw a play in the Nauvoo Visitors' Center.

We drove to Carthage to visit Carthage Jail, where Joseph Smith, Jr. and his brother Hyrum were martyred on June 27, 1844 (more information here).

Water lilies on the Mississippi River
The upstairs window, approximately centered in this photo, from which Joseph Smith, Jr. fell after being shot by a mob.
Although the events at Carthage were tragic and caused much confusion and heartache for the Saints at the time, the restored jail is a peaceful place where visitors are invited to ponder on the testimony of the Prophet Joseph Smith. We consider Joseph's martyrdom a witness to the truth of his message.

Joseph Smith, Jr., and his brother Hyrum
This is a hole from a bullet in the original door to the upstairs room in Carthage Jail. It was the only thing that separated the mob from the prophet and his friends (his brother Hyrum, John Taylor and Willard Richards) at the time of the martyrdom.
"I never feel to force my doctrine upon any person. I rejoice to see prejudice give way to truth, and the traditions of men dispersed by the pure principles of the gospel of Jesus Christ."--Joseph Smith, Jr. This monument, and several others like it, line the entrance to the jail.
After Carthage, we headed back to Nauvoo. In addition to these sights, we also went on a tour of historic sites owned by the Community of Christ (also in Nauvoo). Our tour guide was very knowledgeable about the history. It was interesting to note the different spirit there however.

The Homestead
The Community of Christ owns a reconstructed version of the Red Brick Store, where the Relief Society, the world's largest women's organization, was first organized "under the priesthood and after the order of the priesthood."

After our tour, we headed back to the LDS Historic Nauvoo.

We just had to go to the blacksmith shop:

They actually do smithing in this old-time shop!
And the wainwright & wheelwright shop:

Our final stop before tour hours ended was this old-time apothecary/general store:

Here are a couple more pictures from this part of our trip:

Calm as a Summer's Morn, found at the Joseph and Hyrum Smith Memorial, depicts Joseph & Hyrum heading to Carthage (and their deaths)
The original Nauvoo Temple was destroyed shortly after the Saints left Nauvoo. The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints reconstructed the temple and it was dedicated in 2002. We took the opportunity to attend the temple while we were in Nauvoo and it was a wonderful experience! It is breathtakingly beautiful, inside and out, and holds much meaning for us and many other Latter-day Saints.

One final picture before I wrap up this post. We stayed at Camp Nauvoo while visiting. Tent camping there is really inexpensive ($3/person/night), but for a little bit extra ($9/person/night) we were able to stay in their (air-conditioned and lighted) cabins for 2 of our 3 nights there. They are frequently booked during summer by large groups, but it's a pretty sweet deal if you can manage to get a cabin. It's not like a Marriott or anything by any means, but the showerhouse/restroom building has running water and the showers were hot :o)


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