Joseph Smith Jr. Settles In Nauvoo, Illinois

In 1839 Joseph Smith and his followers, the Mormons, settled in this area after they were forced out of Missouri by religious persecution.

The Mormons were granted a very liberal charter for their city which they named Nauvoo. Within three years Nauvoo was one of the largest cities in Illinois and the tenth largest in the United States. Nauvoo was famous for its beautiful homes, its many fine shops and its magnificent Temple on the bluff overlooking the city and the river. Soon internal dissention, religious antagonism and the fear of the political power of the Mormons exploded into a fury. In 1844 Joseph Smith and his brother were assassinated and the Mormons were forced to evacuate the city in 1846. The burning of the Temple in 1846 was the last recorded act of anti-Mormonism.

On April 25, Joseph and the other leaders selected a town named Commerce in Hancock County, Illinois, to be their new city. It was a beautiful, though swampy, location overlooking a large bend in the Mississippi river. They bought the land and began settling there. The Twelve Apostles soon went abroad again to preach the Gospel. Joseph Smith remained behind to help build up the new city. Joseph changed the name to Nauvoo, which comes from a Hebrew word meaning beautiful.