A confidant of the Prophet Joseph Smith, Israel Barlow was the Church member who made the first contact that eventually led to the purchase of land in Commerce, Ill., in 1839, eventually resulting in the city of Nauvoo.
On Sept. 13, more than 200 of the estimated 10,000 Barlow descendants will gather in Nauvoo to dedicate a monument to Israel and Elizabeth Barlow on the occasion of Israel's 200th birthday. A meeting will be held at 10 a.m. in the Joseph Smith Academy Building prior to the dedicatory service.
In May 1839, while the Prophet and his associates languished in Liberty Jail, Latter-day Saints began gathering in Illinois, having been driven from Missouri under threat of extermination by order of the Missouri governor. Brother Barlow was the first of the exiles to meet with Isaac Galland, who owned property and lived in Commerce. Later that year, Church leaders, with Brother Barlow present, purchased property from Dr. Galland and others. In April 1840, the city was renamed Nauvoo.
Church members also purchased property in other areas of Illinois and Iowa, but Nauvoo became the central gathering place, with a population of 12,000 to 15,000 residents by 1846, when the Latter-day Saints departed for the Rocky Mountains under threat of mob violence.
More information about the Barlow gathering can be obtained from the family association Web site, www.israelbarlow.org.