If you ever go to Nauvoo, be sure to take the wagon ride. Despite some of my children’s expressions above, it was a very pleasant experience. I loved hearing all of the stories from the missionary tour guide.
We traveled along the roads that are named after Joseph Smith’s brothers. I thought that was what the tour guide said but now as I look at the map I can’t find the names. Anyway, the first story we heard was about Joseph’s brother, Samuel Smith. He was the first traveling missionary for the church, as far as I know. The first Book of Mormon he attempted to give away was not accepted. On the second attempt he was able to leave it with a Methodist preacher, who said he would sell it on an upcoming preaching tour. Samuel Smith said he would come back in 2 weeks to collect the money from the sale. He left thinking the mission was a failure. But the preacher, John P. Greene, and his wife, Rhoda Young Greene, read the book. They felt impressed with truth when reading it. Samuel also left a copy of the Book of Mormon with Phineas Young, Rhoda’s brother. Samuel declared the Book of Mormon to be:
Phineas read the book more out of curiosity then from believing what Samuel told him. After he read it, this is what he said about the Book of Mormon:
I commenced and read every word in the book in the same week.The week following I did the same, but to my surprise, I could not find the errors that I anticipated, but felt a conviction that the book was true.
… My father then took the book home with him, and read it through. I asked him his opinion of it. He said it was the greatest work and the clearest of error he had ever seen, the Bible not excepted.
I then lent the book to my sister, Fanny Murray. She read it and declared it a revelation. Many others did the same.
Phineas, Rhoda, and John all joined the Church. Such was the beginning of the Young family in the LDS Church. You can read more of the story here. As the missionary said, you never know when or how the missionary seeds you plant will bear fruit. Just keep looking and planting those seeds.
He showed us the site where King Follett had died in an accident while digging for a well. The Church has built a well at the site and calls it the Follett Memorial Well.
All my life I have heard about the King Follett discourse by Joseph Smith. Now I was finally hearing the story and seeing the place behind it! I remember being confused because for a long time when I was young I didn’t realize that “King” was the first name of this man and not a title. King Follett, a Latter-day Saint, was digging a well at this site when a tub of crushing rocks fell on him and killed him. His wife asked Joseph to speak at his funeral. That gave Joseph the opportunity to say important revelation to the Saints. Here is the sermon he gave.
We stopped in the Dan Jones Hollow, a hollow that the Church has named in honor of Dan Jones. I feel sad that I didn’t get a picture, but here’s the story. Dan was a small, but courageous, man who came from Wales to Nauvoo. He was a devoted follower of Joseph Smith, such that he was in Carthage Jail giving Joseph support the night before Joseph was martyred. As they were falling asleep that night, Joseph asked Dan Jones if he was afraid to die for the cause of the restored gospel of Jesus Christ. Brother Jones replied,
“Has that time come think you? Engaged in such a cause I do not think that death would have many terrors.”
Joseph then prophesied,
You will yet see Wales and fulfill the mission appointed you ere you die.
Tragically, Joseph died the next day. But Dan Jones did go on a mission to Wales after that, teaching the gospel and bringing in thousands of people. In 1846 he averaged 35 converts a month, and then later it was over a hundred a month! By the time he left Wales, there were almost 4000 members of the Church due to his efforts. Here is an article about that.
I actually saw a cardinal (the red thing in the middle of the photo) in the bushes during our wagon ride. I don’t see cardinals in Utah so this was a lovely surprise.
We then heard a story about Porter Rockwell and his brother, Merritt, then a story about the Abbott Family who lived where this barn is.
He also spoke of Joseph Smith inviting a Catholic priest to Nauvoo to speak. I will add those stories in here later.
I loved what the missionary tour guide said at the end of the ride, quoting Joseph Smith. He said something to the effect of:
We welcome you to Nauvoo. We invite you to accept our faith. If you don’t accept it, at least please accept our hospitality. Please accept our hospitality and live by the Golden Rule, treating others as you want to be treated.
As he said, please accept the hospitality of the Church. The activities in Nauvoo are all free, courtesy of the Church. It is a great family vacation spot, because you learn real stories and feel such peace in this place, because it was founded by a prophet of God.
Next up for the sights we saw: the Jonathan Browning Gun Shop, Lucy Mack Smith Home, and Rendezvous in Old Nauvoo!