Description(Mormons) An important collection of approximately sixty printed and manuscript documents from Hancock County, Illinois and in particular, Carthage and Nauvoo -- where the Mormons, under the leadership of Joseph Smith, settled in 1839-1846.
In 1838, Joseph Smith and several thousand Mormons fled Missouri by order of the Governor, and migrated to parts of Illinois and Iowa. Joseph Smith purchased swampland from farmers and speculators on the banks of the Mississippi River, situated in between the towns of Carthage (county seat) and Quincy. By 1840, nearly 3,000 Mormons settled on this land tract, generally referred to as Commerce. Joseph Smith renamed the settlement Nauvoo ("beautiful" in Hebrew) and the Mormon migration continued en masse. The Mormons' fear of religious persecution prompted Joseph Smith to obtain a special charter for Nauvoo granting the city an independence likened to that of the State -- Joseph Smith served as head of the municipal system, legal system, city government and church. As such, he issued writs of habeas corpus that protected Nauvoo's citizenry from law and tax enforcement agents from other states; raised a militia that was independent of the State militia; and created a fiscal shelter for the Church and it's members that held no allegiance or obligations to the larger State. By 1844, Nauvoo's population soared to 10,000. It's liberal charter, growing commercial success, and river proximity made it a safe haven for various types of criminals. This, combined with anti-Mormon sentiment, and a general disdain for the untouchable (and questionable) business and political practices of Joseph Smith, fueled anger in the neighboring towns of Quincy and Carthage. At the same time, some Nauvoo Mormons were also questioning the morality of Smith's leadership, especially after he announced his intentions to run for President of the United States. The apostate collective published a dissenting newspaper, The Nauvoo Expositor, but only published one issue before Joseph Smith ordered its presses destroyed on June 11, 1844. Subsequently, Joseph Smith and his brother Hyrum were arrested. Smith was murdered by a mob while he was held in jail in Carthage on June 27, 1844. His death led to a succession crisis and schisms within the Mormon movement. Brigham Young was chosen to succeed Joseph Smith, and from 1846 through 1852, he led the migration of sixteen thousand Mormons from a hostile Illinois to Utah.
Of the sixty documents, roughly one third date from the period of Mormon settlement there. A small sampling of the material reveals two documents signed by early Mormon leader Stephen Markham (1800-1878), partly-printed Document Signed "Stephen Markham", one page, 8" x 12", Nauvoo, Illinois, July 8, 1846 selling land in Nauvoo to Leonard Schusler. The collection contains a similar D.S. also signed by Markham and his first wife Hannah Markham and filled-out in Markham's hand, one page, 8" x 12", Nauvoo, Illinois, April 1, 1842 in which they sell a lot in Nauvoo to Mormon elder George W. Crouse. Crouse was excommunicated from the Church on September 15, 1844 for "unchristian conduct". Interestingly enough the collection includes George W. Crouse and Catherine Crouse, D.S., 12" x 16" June 26, 1843, sale to Daniel Bailey for $200 for land in Nauvoo. Markham had been in the Carthage jail with Smith and others but was allowed to leave to obtain medicine. Upon his return he was confronted by a mob and forced away at bayonet point. Also of interest is a manuscript D.S. endorsed by Carthage County jailer, George W. Stigall, Nauvoo, Illinois, June 14, 1845. Stigall was the jailer for Carthage County at the time that Joseph and Hyrum Smith were assassinated. The collection also includes numerous documents listing homes in Nauvoo that had been sold off for non-payment of tax, many of which appear to have been abandoned (or just delinquent) in the period between 1843 and 1847 when the Mormon's began their journey west to establish Deseret in modern-day Utah. A tremendous collection worthy of further research. Overall condition Very Good. An important, early Mormon archive. From the Henry E. Luhrs Collection.
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