Day 3 of our Trip to Nauvoo: Winter Quarters and the Kanesville Tabernacle

For Day 3, we woke up in Omaha, Nebraska. First we went the Mormon Trails Visitors’ Center, where Winter Quarters used to be. 

We had many ancestors who lived in Winter Quarters. Unfortunately, we didn’t have time to go across the street to the cemetery to look at the gravestones and pay our respects. I snapped this picture of the temple that is next to the Visitors’ Center.

The Reconstructed Kanesville Tabernacle Photo courtesy of Alexander L. Baugh

Photo Courtesy Alexander L. Baugh, featured at

After the Winter Quarters Visitors’ Center, we went across the Missouri River to the Kanesville Tabernacle. I didn’t know anything about this place so I felt full of the spirit of discovery as I walked and read all of the signs and listened to the stories.This tabernacle is not the original one, it is a replica of the orginal one that was built by 200 saints in 3 weeks. The replica was dedicated by Pres. Hinckley in 1996. This was the place where the “apostolic presidency” ended and Brigham Young was ordained and sustained to be the 2nd president of the Church in December 1847. For 3 and a half years after Joseph Smith died, the Church was run by the Quorum of the 12 apostles, until the time when Brigham Young was ordained. I definitely felt the Spirit here. It was very strong, just like it was in Winter Quarters and Nauvoo. The missionary couple there were so sweet. I loved hearing the stories they told. 

One story was about one of their ancestors who lived in Winter Quarters. Here is a quote from her, which inspires me to keep on keeping my journal:

“I have a desire to leave a record of those scenes and events, through which I have passed, that my children, down to my latest posterity, may read what their ancestors were willing to suffer, and did suffer, patiently for the gospel’s sake. And I wish them to understand too, that what I now [write] is the history of hundreds of others, … who have passed through many like scenes for the same cause. I also desire them to know that it was obedience to the commands of the true and living God [to gather to the Salt Lake Valley], and with the assurance of an eternal reward—an exaltation to eternal life in His kingdom—that we suffered these things. I hope, too, that it will inspire my posterity with fortitude to stand firm and faithful to the truth, and be willing to suffer, and sacrifice all things they may be required to pass thru for the kingdom of God’s sake” (“Leaves from the Life of Elizabeth Horrocks Jackson Kingsford,” Utah State Historical Society, Manuscript A 719).  

The husband told the story about Oliver Cowdery coming to a meeting there in October 1848, after Brigham Young had gone to the Salt Lake Valley and then come back to get more saints to go to the Utah Territory. I did not know that Oliver Cowdery came back into the Church “fold” here in the Kanesville Tabernacle. I am copying here the story, from’s archive of Ensign magazine articles:

On Saturday afternoon, 21 October 1848, they [Oliver Cowdery, his wife, Elizabeth, daughter Maria, and Phineas Young, his brother-in-law] arrived during a local conference. One report says Elder Orson Hyde, who was conducting the meeting, spotted Oliver, came down from the stand and embraced him, took him by the arm, and escorted him to the platform. Elder Hyde invited him to speak to the congregation of nearly 2,000 Saints. He said:

“Friends and Brethren, my name is Cowdery, Oliver Cowdery. In the early history of this church I stood identified with her, and one in her councils.” Then he bore testimony as one of the Three Witnesses: “I wrote with my own pen the entire Book of Mormon (save a few pages) as it fell from the lips of the Prophet Joseph, as he translated it by the gift and power of God.” He stated, “I beheld with my eyes and handled with my hands the gold plates from which it was transcribed,” and testified, “That book is true.” He added, “I was present with Joseph, when an holy angel from God came down from heaven and conferred or restored, the Aaronic Priesthood,” and “I was present with Joseph when the Melchizedek Priesthood was conferred by the holy angels from God on high.”

On 30 October, he spent the evening talking with Elders Hyde and George A. Smith, and on 5 November he met with the high priests and the Pottawattamie High Council in the log tabernacle. “I wish to come humbly and be one in your midst,” he said. “I only wish to be identified with you; I am out of the church, I am not a member of the church. I wish to become a member of the church again. I wish to come in at the door. I know the door.” On 12 November Elder Hyde baptized Oliver Cowdery in Mosquito Creek. Brother Cowdery planned to go west the next year but did not, due to family and lack of means. He decided to wait another year, but then his health deteriorated and he died on 3 March 1850 in Missouri.

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