Nauvoo Week 16 (28 March – 3 April 2016)
On Monday, we had a home evening with the community and the site missionaries. The site missionaries served hot dogs, chips, and kettle corn. They have an area on the Nauvoo property that has prairie grass that grows quite tall (5’ – 6’). The sign posted by this property says that about 1/5 of the entire country was covered with this type of grass. Every year they burn that field to show the power of the fire and how quickly it spreads. Of course, the fire department was there to ensure safety. It did go up quickly (it took about 3 and a half minutes to completely burn) and the heat from it was crazy, we had to move back because it was so hot. As you can imagine we smelt really good afterwards! Good thing Tom didn’t have on his suit. We then went to the Elder & Sister Obrien’s house to watch the General Women’s conference as we had missed it. They came in January from Dallas, Texas and we had fun talking and getting to know them better.
Tuesday evening we served in the Baptistry which was quite busy. There were still schools that were out for spring break. We had some more families and we enjoyed talking with them. Before we went to the Temple we attended a fireside with Susan Easton Black Durrant. She is now married to George Durrant. She was a history professor at BYU. They come to stay in Nauvoo for a couple of months every year and while they are here she gives lectures. She talked about Emma Smith. Emma was 5ft. 9in. and large boned. Christian women did not ever cut their hair; it was considered their crowning glory. They would put their hair in a bun and only let it down for their husbands. Emma was a school teacher. On June 18th 1827 they (Joseph & Emma) eloped and got married; her Father did not approve of Joseph. Her Father reported that she was abducted so the law was looking for them. They went to Palmyra where Joseph’s family lived. Their first three children died within hours of birth. Alvin and twins, Thaddeus and Louisa. John & Julia Murdock had twins; Joseph Murdock, who died at eleven due to exposure when the mob took Joseph from his house and Julia Murdock, who died at 49 as a Catholic were given to Joseph and Emma who adopted them. Then Joseph III was born, later he was asked to be the President of the Reorganized LDS Church. He was asked four times, on the first three offers he did not accept but fourth time he accepted. Then Frederick was born who died at age 25, Alexander was then born who later became an Apostle in the Reorganized Church, Don Carlos was born but died at age one, then Thomas was born but died within hours of birth and lastly, Hyrum David, Emma was pregnant with him when Joseph was killed. Emma had 11 children in all, five grew to adulthood and six did not. Emma went with Joseph to get the plates; she was the first one to know that he had them. She was baptized by Oliver Cowdery June 28, 1830. Under revelation, she chose songs for the first hymn book for the church. She and Joseph lived with several different families during their early married lives; Joseph’s parents, Isaac Morley, and Newel K. Whitney. She had a patriarchal blessing given her by her father-in-law, Joseph Smith Sr. There were no “ifs” in the blessing; it also concluded “You will be saved in Celestial Kingdom, Amen.”
The extermination order from Governor Boggs came while Joseph was in jail. She was forced to leave Missouri with her four young children. She crosses the Mississippi, and lives with Sarah Cleveland who took her in. That was on October 27, 1838. Finally, in 1839 she came to the Nauvoo Homestead. On March 17, 1842 she (an elect Lady) becomes the first Relief Society President. She chose as her counselors; Sarah Cleveland, Elizabeth Whitney and Eliza R. Snow as Secretary. At that time women did not teach women in Relief Society. Joseph, Willard Richards and John Taylor taught them. The sisters would bring baskets to church and asked others to contribute to give them to the poor. As we know Emma did not go west. Later she marries a man by the name of Lewis Bidamon. Emma owns a lot of property as saints that left Nauvoo put many of their parcels of property in her name to take care of. They want taxes for the properties and they have no money. So Lewis goes to California for the gold rush and comes back empty handed. When she dies she was said to be calling Joseph’s name. She dies April 30, 1879. Her lot was very difficult but she stood by Joseph till his death. She is truly elect lady in my eyes.
On Thursday, we had another lecture of Susan Easton Black Durrant. She spoke on Joseph Smith’s Ancestry; a man by the name of Reverend John Lothrop, later changed to Lathrop when he arrived in America, who was born in England in 1584 and died in 1653 (USA). In 1601 he enters Cambridge University and in 1605 graduates. In 1609 he receives a master’s degree. Ordained a Deacon in Church of England and assigned to a small Parish. He was a very popular speaker. In 1623 he wanted to trace his Priesthood Line of Authority; he had difficulty trying to do so. Some men have died he can’t find others. He creates a church called the Independent Church. Meets others and friends who are espousing doctrine other than what the Church of England teaches because they don’t think the Church has the authority of God; they were rounded up and put in New Gate Prison. He refuses to sign a document stating that the King of England has all power-politically and spiritually. His children pleaded with officials to have him released from prison. He is sent to America. He brings his Bible which is now in a museum in Barnstable, MA. He would circle passages that had to do with authority and because of the candle wax it burned places in his Bible. It turns out that this man is Joseph Smith’s 5th Great Grandfather. Also, of course related to Hyrum, Joseph F. Smith, and Joseph Fielding Smith. A story of interest, Joseph F. Smith was a strapping young man who was the Historian for the church. One day Brigham Young passed by his desk and asked who he was, he told him he was Hyrum’s son. He (Brigham) asked if he could give him a blessing and said that it would be from his Father Hyrum. The blessing included a call to the Apostleship and to be a member in the First Presidency; there was no vacancy at the time. John Lathrop was also the 5th Great Grandfather to Oliver Cowdery, Orson and Parley Pratt, Frederick G. Williams, and Wilford Woodruff. More distant Great Grandfather to Harold B. Lee and Marion G. Romney. All very prominent men in the church. Another side note: Asael Smith, Joseph’s Grandfather had had a vision that told him that someone in his family would revolutionize religion. His father, Joseph Smith Sr., had seven visions before Joseph had his first vision, one of which was very similar to Lehi’s dream of the Tree of Life.
Later that evening we went to another one of her lectures in the Nauvoo Visitor’s Center. In this one she talked about the days leading up to the Martyrdom of the Prophet Joseph Smith and his brother Hyrum. Starting with June 12, 1844 the city sheriff (John P. Green) came to arrest him-the charge that he and Hyrum had caused rioting and destruction of the Nauvoo Expositor (Joseph all in all had received 38 warrants for his arrest in his lifetime). There was a loop hole where he could have a court held in a location of his choice; he contacted Judge Aaron Johnson of Nauvoo (member of High Council in Nauvoo) - he was found not guilty following 14 hours of deliberation and testimony. June 13th again they came to arrest them for the exact same reason-Joseph could choose where he wanted his case to be heard. Judge Daniel Wells holds a court in Nauvoo that day and they are found not guilty again, following 14 hours of deliberation and testimony. Later that day Joseph calls young men to come to his home and to bring horses. June 14th to the 17th (Days of Communication) the young men rode away on their horses carrying letters explaining the plight of the Church and its leaders. Their Fathers who were younger than 45 years of age were called on missions to Carthage to try and change public opinion about Joseph and Hyrum. One hundred men went to Carthage to try and change public opinion. The men 45 and older were asked to write letters to government officials pleading for help. On June 18th distribution of the letters stopped because of degraded conditions in Nauvoo and the men came back from Carthage. Later, Joseph dresses in his Nauvoo Legion Lieutenant General’s uniform and calls out the Nauvoo legion and declares the city under martial law. The enemies establish a “line of aggression” on the east side of Nauvoo. A “line of defense” is also formed by citizens of Nauvoo. They said they would not break the line of defense unless members of the 12 Apostles or if someone who had direct word from Governor Ford to ease the situation and brings matters into control approached the line (Joseph had sent word for all of the Apostles who were out on missions to come home). On June 22nd the “line of defense” was broken when men with white flags representing Governor Ford came to town. These representatives (posse) of men were sent by Governor Ford with an arrest warrant for Joseph and Hyrum (meanwhile, Governor Ford stayed in the Hamilton Inn in Carthage). The same charges were filed but it stated that they could only be tried in Carthage. Joseph was hiding upstairs, when the posse left he and Hyrum, in counsel with other brethren, decide to escape to Iowa. Joseph and Hyrum are rowed across the Mississippi into Iowa where there was no warrant. Many saints there in Iowa thought that they should go to Carthage and then come back and head for the Rocky Mountains. Joseph and Hyrum decide to go to the Rocky Mountains and Orrin Porter Rockwell is to accompany them and then Brigham Young would bring the rest of the Saints. On June 23rd Porter goes to Emma and tells her that Joseph is not coming back and she writes a letter to Joseph and asks him to give it to him (he cannot read and so he does not know what it says). In the letter she tells him that many think that he would look like a coward if he did not go to Carthage. She encourages him to come back, they had gone through many other trials over things he did not do, this would just be one more and things would be alright. She had confidence that Governor Boggs would take care of him. It was at this point that he said “If my life is of no value to my friends, it is of none to me.” He and Hyrum go back on June 24th. Joseph and Hyrum head for Carthage with about 40 friends. Five miles before Carthage Governor Ford had sent a Military escort. They instructed the Smith’s they were to turn around to go and ensure they could take weapons from the citizens in Nauvoo. She ended there and will tell the rest next week, but we may not get to go.
It was Ethan’s Birthday on Tuesday March 28th. We are so excited for you and for the opportunity you will have of receiving the Priesthood, Sunday April 10th. You are becoming a valiant young man and we love you so much. We hope you will feel us close to you on that day, and wish that we could be there.
On Saturday, we watched General Conference which was great. We went into Keokuk in between sessions and stopped to see a barge go through the locks on the Mississippi. We also picked up a deranged man on the side of the road; the wind was blowing so hard that he could not pedal into it. He asked if we would take him to a gas station so he could buy a drink. He had a disability and didn’t really know who he was or where he was going. He had a scratched note that gave some directions, but they were not clear. We took him to the gas station, bought him a drink and asked the cashier if she knew where there was a home that had llamas? She said no, but to try near Camp Nauvoo; she gave us directions there. We came to Camp Nauvoo but he was not sure where to go; we tried a couple of roads with no success. Finally we saw a man on a riding lawn mower and stopped to ask him if he knew the gentleman, he said “No” and told us to call the cops and let them find out whom he was and where he lived. We did so, waited for the cop, unloaded his bike from our trunk and left him in the hands of the officer. We pray he made it home safely.
Today we watched conference again. Wow as you know it was Awesome. The talks about Temple work really meant a lot to us. So grateful that President Monson was able to speak. We know that he is a true Prophet of God. Things are starting to green up here and the trees are blossoming. We are so happy to be serving here. We love you all, and we hope you have a wonderful week.
Mom & Dad/Nana & Papa/Elder & Sister Shaw