On Feb. 4, 1846, a group of wagons, teams, livestock, and people left Nauvoo, Illinois, all ferried across the cold Mississippi River to begin the Mormon pioneer exodus to the Rocky Mountains. Now each year on February 4, Historic Nauvoo commemorates this event.


This year on Friday, February 4, 2011, Historic Nauvoo will again remember the Mormon pioneer exodus, which took place 165 years ago. Guests will gather at the Family Living Center from 9 to 10 a.m. for refreshments. A procession of horse-drawn wagons and walkers will then make the mile-long re-enactment march down Parley Street, along the “Trail of Hope,” to the Mississippi River’s edge. Participants will wear name tags representing ancestors and other pioneers who joined the migration from Nauvoo.


At the Mississippi River’s edge, a short memorial service will honor the early pioneers who, under the direction of Brigham Young, left Nauvoo in mid-winter due to tensions and conflict in Hancock County. “It was imperatively necessary to start as soon as possible,” Brigham Young said, and the early saints complied. Today, Nauvoo residents, visitors, and missionaries from the Illinois Nauvoo Mission re-enact this historic event under various February 4 temperatures and winter conditions.

Untold Nauvoo Stories Symposium

Concurrent with the 1846 Exodus re-enactment, the first annual three-day Untold Nauvoo Stories Symposium will take place on February 3-5, 2011. This free historical symposium will celebrate lesser known stories of Nauvoo’s history through exhibits, video vignettes, Native American stories, entertainment, and professional presentations by historical researchers and authors. The City of Nauvoo, Nauvoo Tourism Office, Nauvoo Historical Society, Joseph Smith Historic Site, and Historic Nauvoo are sponsoring the symposium.

Since the founding of the city of Nauvoo in 1839 by members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, this community has been home to French Icarians, German immigrants, Sisters of St. Benedict, and various religious groups and industry. The Untold Nauvoo Stories Symposium will celebrate people and events that make Nauvoo unique and significant to American history.

On Thursday afternoon, February 3, 2011, the Nauvoo Tourism Office at 1295 Mulholland Street will welcome guests, offer warm drinks and snacks, feature displays of Nauvoo, and provide symposium materials.

Here is a quick summary of symposium events that will take place on February 3, 4 and 5:

Thursday, February 3rd

  • Welcome Center Open
  • Special Exhibits
  • Video Vignettes
  • Native American Stories
  • Presentations

Friday, February, 4th

  • Re-enactment of Mormon exodus
  • Special Exhibits
  • Video Vignettes
  • Native American Stories
  • Presentations
  • Campfire
  • Dinner and Entertainment

Saturday, February 5th

  • Meet- and Greet-Breakfast
  • Special Exhibits
  • Video Vignettes
  • Presentations

Symposium Presenters

The Untold Nauvoo Stories Symposium will feature presentations, video vignettes, stories, and music. Presenters include:

Bryon Andreasen, Ph.D., research historian at the Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum in Springfield, Illinois, will discuss “Lincoln/Mormon Story Connections.” Even though Abraham Lincoln and the Mormons inhabited different political, social, and cultural circles, their stories intersected.

Susan Easton Black, Ed.D., professor at Brigham Young University and author and lecturer of the Mormon experience in Nauvoo, will provide a video vignette on the “Legacy of the Nauvoo Exodus in Iowa.” Dr. Black will discuss the Nauvoo Exodus in Iowa, the Iowa Mormon Trails Association, and resources to identify information about early Nauvoo residents in Iowa.

Marilyn Candido, Nauvoo Historical Society Director and co-author of Nauvoo: A History Featuring the Paintings of Lane K. Newberry, will discuss with Dean Gabbert “River Travel, River Men, and River Recollections and the Art of Lane K. Newberry” and describe Newberry’s sketches and notes as he portrayed Nauvoo history.

Craig Dunn, amateur historian and author of a forthcoming book on the Nauvoo War, will discuss in a video vignette, ‘The Nauvoo War” of 1846, which resulted in the expulsion of the last saints from Nauvoo.

Mike Foley, faculty member at Iowa Wesleyan College and Mormon Trail historian, will present “The Impact of Nauvoo on Lee County, Iowa.” Early LDS members arrived in the Montrose area in 1839, and by March of 1841, the town of Montrose had radically changed. Foley will detail the Mormon encampment at Sugar Creek and travel across Lee County, Iowa.

Dean Gabbert, author of Brown Water Boating and other books about the Mississippi, will share Steamboat Memories” when the Mississippi River was a highway for pioneers and merchants between 1839 and the early 1850s.

Shantel Gardner, playwright, performer, and member of the Joseph and Emma Smith Historical Society, will offer a multi-media presentation on the life of Emma Smith with family photos and historical artifacts.

Ken Godfrey, Ph.D., educator, author, and lecturer on the Mormon experience in Illinois, will tell stories in his video vignette, “Life on a Mississippi Island, 1841-1846,” of a man and a goat on an island near Nauvoo and Joseph Smith’s interactions with church members in Nauvoo. 

Jeff Hancks, Ph.D., faculty member and Baxter-Snyder Professor of Regional and Icarian Studies at Western Illinois University (WIU), will discuss “The Icarian Presence” in Nauvoo. The Center for Icarian Studies at WIU houses materials on the utopian community that formed a communistic society after the Mormons left Illinois.

Paul Hokanson, genealogist for the Joseph and Lucy Mack Smith Family Foundation, will discuss “Nobility in Ancestry of English Immigrants to Nauvoo,” including royal ancestors of the Prophet Joseph Smith and other Nauvoo families from New England.

Joseph Johnstun, independent historian and lecturer of early Illinois and Nauvoo area history, will present “Grand Moral Entertainment: A Brief History of the Theater in Mormon Nauvoo.”

Gary Kirkman, cowboy poet, musician, performer and LDS missionary in the Illinois Nauvoo Mission, will present music and cowboy stories at a campfire gathering.

Janet Lisonbee, researcher and author of books on early Mormon cemeteries, will discuss “Coping with death in Mormon Nauvoo.” She has identified 1800 names of those who died in Hancock County during 1839-1848 and located obituaries and information about their lives. Lisonbee will explain the main causes of death in Nauvoo. 

Rick J. Taylor, Ph.D., educator, researcher, and lecturer on the Mormon Illinois Thoroughfare, will describe “Religious Interlopers in Jacksonian Era Illinois.” He made a similar presentation at the 2009 Mormon History Association Conference. 

Robert L. Webb, ordained Primitive Baptist minister and founder and director of the Primitive Baptist Library in Hancock County, will discuss “The Primitive Baptist Library: Preserving Our Pioneer Heritage.” He will provide information about the library, manuscript and published materials for Hancock County between 1839 and 1853, and the role of its ministers and members in the Mormon conflict.

Two video vignettes from now-deceased Nauvoo residents will be shown during the symposium. Florence Ourth, a member of the Nauvoo Community of Christ Church, was present in 1928 when the bodies of Joseph and Hyrum Smith were located. Her video vignette is titled “Remembering Emma.”

Lillian Snyder, Ph.D. (1914-2004), a descendant of Nauvoo’s French Icarians, studied and preserved Icarian history. A professor at Western Illinois University (WIU), she donated Baxter and Icarian papers to the Center for Icarian Studies at WIU. In Nauvoo, Dr. Snyder founded the Lillian Snyder Icarian Living History Foundation. Her video vignette provides information on “Icaria.”

The Untold Nauvoo Stories Symposium offers an opportunity for those interested in Nauvoo history to gather together, expand their vision of this historic community, and savor sites where key events occurred. Symposium participants can also catch a glimpse of the 1846 Mormon exodus from Nauvoo by attending the re-enactment ceremony.

For more information about the Untold Nauvoo Stories Symposium, see <a href="http://www.

<hr class=’system-pagebreak’ ></a><hr class=’system-pagebreak’ ></a>facebook.com/untoldnauvoostories”>www.facebook.com/untoldnauvoostories). For more information about the Exodus re-enactment, see historicnauvoo.net and beautifulnauvoo.com.


Rosemary Palmer is Nauvoo, Illinois, correspondent for Meridian Magazine.