1846 began the Mormon exodus from Nauvoo. Leaving behind their homes, beautiful city, family and friends who they quite possibly would never see again in this life. As they journeyed west, they recorded their feelings and experiences in personal journals. From these journals we get a sense of what it would have been like to have traveled with them. Some selected writings from these journals are reproduced on the signs along this trail to the river.
George Q Cannon
"I was five years old when we started from Nauvoo. We crossed over the Mississippi in the skiff in the dusk of the evening. We bid goodbye to our dear old feeble grandmother (Lucy Mack Smith). I can never forget the bitter tears she shed when she bid us goodbye for the last time in this life. She knew it would be the last time she would see her son's family..."
Martha Ann Smith
"I had a small flock of sheep which I had not time to sell. These I left, together with my house and lot, the former containing my furniture and books."
"He died in my arms about four o'clock. This was the second child which I have lost, both dying in my arms. He died with the whooping cough & black canker. We are entirely destitute of anything even to eat much less to nourish the sick."
"How well I remember what a hard time (father) had breaking in the animals to draw the wagon. There were six cows and two oxen. The oxen were well broken and quite sedate. But the cows were wild and unruly...While Father was breaking the cattle, Mother was praying....Many nights when we were in bed asleep...She would go out into the orchard...And there pour out her soul in prayer, asking the Lord to open the way for us to go with the Saints."
Margaret Judd Clawson
"With this advanced camp of the great exodus there had come a brass band, led by Captain Pitt. After encampment was made and the toils of the day were over, the snow would be scraped away, a huge fire or several of them kindled within the wagoned enclosure, and there to the inspiring music of Pitt's band, song and dance often beguiled the exiles into forgetfulness of their trials and discomforts."
"We hurried to pack some food, cooking utensils, clothing and bedding, which was afterward unpacked and strewn over the ground by the mob as they searched for fire-arms. Mother had some bread already in the kettles to bake. Of course she didn't have time to bake, so she hung it on the reach of our wagon and cooked it after we crossed the Mississippi River."
Mary Field Garner
"Prepared for the night by erecting a temporary tent out of bed clothes. At this time my wife was hardly able to sit up and my little son was sick with a very high fever and would not even notice anything that was going on."
"Last evening the ladies met to organize...Several resolutions were adopted...If the men wish to hold control over women, let them be on the alert. We believe in equal rights."
Louisa Barns Pratt
"Unless the people are more united in spirit and cease to pray against counsel, it will bring me down to my grave. I am reduced in flesh so that my coat that would scarcely meet around me last winter now laps over twelve inches. It is with much ado that I can keep from lying down and sleeping to wait the resurrection."
"A large amount of labor has been done since arriving in the grove. Indeed the whole camp is very industrious. Many houses have been built, wells dug, extensive farms fenced, and the whole place assumes the appearance of having been occupied for years...."
As Sarah Leavitt and her daughters tried to comfort her sick husband, he began to sing, "Come let us anew, our journey pursue.." He sang that hymn as long as he had strength to sing it and then wanted Elisa (one of his daughters) to sing it. He died without a struggle or a groan.
Marie (Sister Meikle) and Jimmie (Elder DeWitt) were part of Rendzevous during the summer. Elder DeWitt stole our hearts with his energy, his expressions and his voice. Besides all that, Elder DeWitt received a miraculous healing which allowed him to stay all summer and complete his mission.
"And so Nauvoo, I say Farewell to you.
With numb and aching heart, One last adieu.
As through our tears I look to homes beyond
Could ever I be fond of one as you?
One cardinal's song, one sunset's glow
One Nauvoo dawn, one silhouette
Of woods on snow.
From templed hill, faint echoes ring
Where prophets walked and talked with God,
Their memories linger
And so I go, and hide my aching heart
No one will see my tears when I depart.
This home I leave will shelter memories clear
Of all that I hold dear, in old Nauvoo.
Farewell Nauvoo, Farewell Nauvoo"
The month of July was non-stop busy with all our performances. However, we were excited to welcome Elder Gross's son, Ken, his wife, Diana, and his son, Brandon to Nauvoo. Their home is in Florida. We had not seen them for years, so it was a real treat to have them in Nauvoo for Elder Gross's birthday.
How do you say goodbye to fantastic missionaries who have been an integral part of our lives for 18 months? It's not easy. The last few days were filled with a farewell dinner given by the mission president, President and Sister Hall; our MTC group pot-luck; mission-wide breakfast, a Lucy Mack cast party and individual dinners with friends.
One of my last days in the sites was at the home of John Taylor. It was a fitting close to serving in the Nauvoo sites.
(Left) Sister Janet Duvall and I became close friends from the very beginning of her mission. Sometimes you just connect with certain people, and that's how it happened with us. Not only were we neighbors, but we often walked together in the mornings and were in the same Lucy Mack Cast. Elder Duvall also worked with Elder Gross in FM.
These young sister missionaries will soon be leaving Nauvoo for their "out-bound" mission and return next spring. Sister Charlene Cornwell arrived in Nauvoo in April 2017 and we became good friends. Sister Cornwell was also in the Lucy Mack cast, making it possible for us to see each other often.
FAREWELL TO ELDER AND SISTER GROSS
Elder and Sister Gross, precious friends;
As sure as the beautiful Mississippi bends
Around this place called Nauvoo,
You have served with your whole hearts.
But your time has come to part
And it will be a tearful adieu.
Mowing lawns for over a year
Must have seemed incredibly drear;
Yet you showed up each day faithfully
And when the horse trails got too dusty
You and the water truck were trusty
An "honary teamster" was he.
Last winter was busier than planned
Meeting humanitarian demands
For more quilts, scarves, hats and bears.
Shops attics, even prophet's homes
Were filled with needles, hooks and looms
Oh, Sister, you had no time to spare!
Our poor "Jed""
Oh, what a task
To do what old Brigham asked
You'd really rather "stay and fight."
But what our cast didn't see
Was how you worked diligently
For hours to get your lines just right
There was anticipation, then scowling
And finally you were growling
On that "buggy ride to Durfey Street"
But at Relief Society you arrived
With a "southern drawl" you contrived
To keep the "Ashby's and Snow's" upbeat.
Through your service and care
(Like Relief Society Quilts you shared)
We've watched how your faith just kept growing
This cast you leave will shelter memories clear
of all that you hold dear.
God bless you wherever you're going.
It is so difficult to tell our friends goodbye. We have learned to love Nauvoo, and most especially the missionaries that served with us. We have been forever changed. We have grown closer together as a couple, and we have grown closer to our Heavenly Father.
We have served with all our hearts, devoting all our time and talents to the building of Illinois Nauvoo Mission. Farewell, Nauvoo. Farewell, Nauvoo.