Nauvoo: from then until now

1800: Sac and Fox Indians lived in the area, which they called Quashquema.

1805-1819: The first known settler in what is now Nauvoo was Denis Julian.

1829: Hancock County organized. Venus post office was established at the Nauvoo site.

1834: Commerce City was founded with lots for sale.

1838: About 350 people had migrated to the peninsula. It was the largest center of population in Hancock County.

1838-39: Latter-day Saints in Missouri were expelled and found refuge in Illinois and what would later become Iowa.

1839: Through the exploration by Israel Barlow in southern Iowa, Joseph Smith learned that lands "at the head of the rapids" in Illinois and across the river in Iowa Territory were available. The Church made four purchases, totalling nearly 660 acres.

April 1839: Joseph Smith and his family arrived in what is now Nauvoo.

1840: Diseases, such as cholera, malaria and measles, struck Nauvoo, with children the chief victims. Despite this, population jumped to more than 3,000, with citizens coming from every state in the Union and Great Britain. Generally, one-third were from Great Britain.

Aug. 14, 1840: Joseph Smith, speaking at the funeral of Seymour Brunson, taught for the first time the doctrine of baptism for the dead.

October 1840: The general conference passed a resolution to begin the construction of a temple at Nauvoo.

Nov. 21, 1840: Ordinance work began and 40 people were baptized for their kindred dead.

December 1840: The Illinois General Assembly passed the Nauvoo Charter, creating Nauvoo, one of five cities in Illinois. The city was an area of roughly six square miles.

Jan. 19, 1841: Joseph Smith received Section 124 of the Doctrine and Covenants, revealing the purpose of temple work.

April 6, 1841: Cornerstones for the temple were laid in a grand ceremony.

August 1841: The 10 districts that were created earlier in the city to supply workers for the temple were organized into ecclesiastical wards, presided over by bishops, whose main responsibility was welfare.

Nov. 8, 1841: Temporary baptismal font in basement of temple was dedicated.

Painting by Theodore Gorka portrays Emma Smith ministering to sick in early days of Nauvoo.
Painting by Theodore Gorka portrays Emma Smith ministering to sick in early days of Nauvoo. Credit: Courtesy Church Audiovisual

March 17, 1842: The Relief Society was organized on the second floor of Joseph Smith's Red Brick Store.

Spring 1842: There were nearly 3,000 people living within the city limits.

May 4, 1842: In the upper room of the Red Brick Store, Joseph Smith introduced the endowment to trusted Church leaders.

Oct. 30, 1842: The first official meeting was held in the unfinished temple.

1843: Life continued in a routine of hard work during the week and worship on Sunday. Sunday meetings were really general meetings for the entire community lasting about two hours each, one held in the morning and one held in the evening. They were held in open-air groves, one of which was west of the temple, another a few blocks east of the temple.

May-June 1843: Revelations on celestial marriage were received.

Spring 1844: Plans were made to explore the West, where Latter-day Saints could settle and preach to the Indians.

March and April 1844: Joseph Smith conferred the keys of temple work upon the Twelve Apostles.

April 6, 1844: Joseph Smith gave the funeral discourse of Elder King Follett on the nature of God.

Spring 1844: The people of Nauvoo nominated Joseph Smith to run for president of the United States and he accepted.

June 27, 1844: Joseph and Hyrum Smith were martyred by a mob in Carthage, Ill.

Aug. 8, 1844: In the grove east of the temple, Brigham Young and the Twelve were sustained to lead the Church.

1845: Population in the Nauvoo region reached 15,000.

May 24, 1845: Capstone was placed on the Nauvoo Temple.

Sept. 22, 1845: A meeting of antagonists was held in Quincy, Ill., 60 miles to the south, resulting in orders for the Latter-day Saints to leave Nauvoo by the following spring.

As depicted in artist's sketch, Nauvoo was prospering in mid-1840s.
As depicted in artist’s sketch, Nauvoo was prospering in mid-1840s. Credit: Courtesy Utah State Historical Society, in United States illustrated

Winter of 1845-46: Members tried to sell their homes to get funds to go west. Nauvoo became a city of wagon builders.

Nov. 30, 1845: Attic story of the temple was dedicated for endowment work.

Dec. 10, 1845: First full endowment in the Nauvoo Temple was given.

December 1845: Gov. Thomas Ford sent a letter suggesting that the U.S. government might not let the saints go west. As a result, in February of that year, Brigham Young gathered about 1,000 individuals to go west.

February-June 1846: Most of the Latter-day Saints who wanted to go west left the city.

May 1, 1846: The temple was dedicated by Orson Hyde and Wilford Woodruff. During the short period of service in the temple, 5,634 endowments were given.

September 1846: The poor and sick who could not leave the city remained behind. At this time a mob came in and the Battle of Nauvoo ensued.

Oct. 9, 1848: Arson fire destroyed temple's interior.

March 1849: Icarians purchased temple structure.

May 27, 1850: A tornado knocked down temple walls. Later, the temple stones were used for other buildings around the city.

Early 1860s: A group of German settlers took over the city and established a thriving wine industry.

1865: Nauvoo City Council ordered the remaining wall of the Nauvoo Temple taken down.

Only one temple wall remained after tornado. Wall stood until 1865.
Only one temple wall remained after tornado. Wall stood until 1865. Credit: Sketch by Frederick Percy

1884: LDS historian B. H. Roberts found the city "withering under a blight from which it cannot recover."

1905: Nearly a hundred members of the Church held a two-day conference.

February 1937: Acting for the Church, Wilford C. Wood purchased the Nauvoo Temple site for $900.

1938: Bryant S. Hinckley wrote that Nauvoo would rise again and, "Annually thousands . . . will visit it."

1954: J. LeRoy Kimball began first restoration efforts on the home of his grandfather, Heber C. Kimball. He envisioned a restored Nauvoo, "a Williamsburg of the Midwest."

1962: The Church founded Nauvoo Restoration Inc., and appointed J. LeRoy Kimball as president. Since then, more than a thousand acres have been brought to a park-like appearance with more than two dozen historic buildings restored.

April 4, 1999: President Gordon B. Hinckley, the son of Bryant S. Hinckley, announced plans to rebuild the Nauvoo Temple on its original footprint.

Oct. 24, 1999: More than 5,000 people attended as President Hinckley broke ground for rebuilding the Nauvoo Illinois Temple.

May 6, 2002: Public open house began for newly constructed Nauvoo Temple. Some 331,849 toured the edifice by June 22, the last day of the open house.

June 27, 2002: Nauvoo Illinois Temple was dedicated by President Gordon B. Hinckley. Twelve other dedicatory sessions followed June 28-30.