Saints subdued the wilderness

After their exodus from Missouri, the Saints did not all go directly to Nauvoo. They spread out over considerable territory until 1841 when a call went out for members to gather in Hancock County, Ill., where Nauvoo is located, and across the Mississippi River in Lee County, Iowa. They were to build up settlements in the two areas.

Joseph Smith went to Nauvoo, then called Commerce, two years before the Saints generally began gathering there. On May 10, 1839, he moved into a small log house on the bank of the Mississippi River.His cabin was located about a mile south of the town of Commerce, about 150 miles up the river from St. Louis, Mo.

At that time, the area was virtually a wilderness. The land was covered with trees and bushes, and much of it, in the lower parts of the river, was so wet that travel by team was impossible.

Despite the unhealthful conditions, Joseph felt that by draining the land, and through the blessing of the Lord, the place could be made pleasant for the Saints to live.

As the Saints began to immigrate to Nauvoo, the city grew rapidly. Its population in 1842 was more than 3,000; in early 1846, it was between 12,000 and 15,000.

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