Friendly citizens of Illinois help saints in exile

Under threat of Gov. Lilburn W. Boggs' order to "exterminate the Mormons" from Missouri, Latter-day Saints were forced to leave that state in January 1839.

Mobs had already burned a number of their homes and killed many Church members - including two at Crooked River and another 17 at Haun's Mill.The Prophet Joseph Smith, who had been imprisoned at Liberty, Mo., since November 1838, was unable to assist the saints during their bitter January exodus. He did, however, instruct them to settle in friendly territory somewhere between Far West, Mo., and Kirtland, Ohio.

At Quincy, Ill., about 200 miles northeast of Far West, the saints were treated with great kindness by local citizens who gave assistance and expressed dismay over the plight of those exiled from their homes in Missouri.

Among those who provided particular assistance were Daniel H. Wells and Isaac Galland. Both owned land, which they sold to the refugees at reasonable prices and on favorable terms. (Daniel H. Wells later joined the Church and was a counselor to Brigham Young in the First Presidency from 1847-1877.)

As news of Gov. Boggs' extermination order spread, citizens in other states were incensed. Rather than release Joseph Smith and others, thereby acknowledging wrongdoing, Gov. Boggs arranged to have them escape, thereby creating the appearance they were fugitives from justice.

After his trying experiences in jail at Liberty, Mo., the Prophet arrived in Quincy on April 22, 1839. At a council meeting resolutions were passed directing some of the saints to settle on the land purchased from Galland, near Commerce (later named Nauvoo), Ill.

Nauvoo soon became the central gathering place for Church members. In 1841, when the revelation recorded as Section 124 was given, Nauvoo was already established as a city of about 3,000 inhabitants.


Articles on this page may be used in conjunction with the gospel doctrine course of study.

Information compiled by Gerry Avant

Sources: History of the Church, by Joseph Smith; A Comprehensive History of the Church, vol. 2, by B.H. Roberts; A Companion to Your Study of the Doctrine and Covenants, vol. 2, by Daniel H. Ludlow; Doctrine and Covenants Commentary.

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