|Yes, Matt is doing his impersonation of my outfit picture poses.|
Way back when in 1839, Nauvoo, IL was home to some 12,000 Mormons (and a few non-Mormons too). This population rivaled that of Chicago, so you could say it was a booming metropolis of the time. The Latter-Day Saints were horrifically persecuted and driven from their home in Missouri, which led them to the quiet little town on the Mississippi River.
Upon arrival, Nauvoo was hardly more than a brush-infested swampland. With sweat, blood, and tears the people worked to build their City Beautiful... Nauvoo (the name being derived from the Hebrew word, "beautiful").
Matt, Luke, my in-laws, and I walked the streets and through the homes of these tough pioneers. Let me remind you that it was 98º with 70% humidity. Yeah. With mosquitoes. And chiggers (where my 23 bug bites came from). The original settlers of Nauvoo lived in these sweltering conditions with no relief from the heat in the summer, or from the frigid, bone-chilling weather in the winter. Like I said, they were some tough folk. Also, I just want to interject that I was going to say they were tough mofos, being that they were Mormon folk (notice the literal use of Mo Fo), but that slang is completely and entirely inappropriate in every sense of its meaning. Anyway...
We also visited Carthage Jail, where Joseph Smith, one of our LDS prophets, was martyred. The door and window pictured above is that of the original door the mobs shot through, killing Joseph's brother, Hyrum, and the window Joseph fell through as he was shot to death. "[At] Carthage Jail, an angry mob with painted faces, and certain death faced the Prophet Joseph Smith. But from the wellsprings of his abundant faith he calmly met the Goliath of death. 'I am going like a lamb to the slaughter,” he had said over a month earlier, “but I am calm as a summer’s morning. I have a conscience void of offense toward God and toward all men'" (lds.org).
Nauvoo is indeed beautiful. Such rich and personal history lives on at the LDS Historic sites. Personal in the fact that I discovered two of my great-great-great grandfathers lived there for a short time and rich in the fact that the people created a wonderful, thriving city with their talents and ingenuity.
The Nauvoo temple (gorgeous building in the sunset pictured above) was rebuilt in 2002 in the same exact model of the original temple that the Saints built in 1846. I am absolutely in awe and amazed that they were able to create such a stunning structure with their limited resources back then. It is truly miraculous.
If you love history, sleepy towns, wagon rides, Mormons, musical productions, or old crap (selectively or collectively) you should jot down Nauvoo on your list of places to visit. Take it from me, a Mormon history lover and vintage fanatic, it's pretty great.