Sunday, June 26, 2011

Our last day in Nauvoo (Saturday, June 11th)

One of these days I need to blog about the present instead of the past because we keep doing stuff. Like Rachel had her last day of school (a long while ago), we went to a picnic where Rachel won $15 for having the best pioneer costume, I just had my birthday, and we went to a Princess Festival yesterday, and my cousin Jimmy got married today. See? Exciting stuff. But I can't justify writing about those things when we still have so much of our Nauvoo trip undocumented. Actually, we only have one more day of actual Nauvoo stuff and we just went around seeing things and then hightailed it out of there. So there isn't much left from Nauvoo.

We knew we had to visit Grandma's cousins—Marie and Monte. The problem was that we had been planning on taking Monte's carriage ride the day before but just couldn't squeeze it in. Instead we did a carriage ride this morning. While we were waiting for the ride to start, people were talking and somehow it came out that we were from Orem, but our baby was born in Egypt.

This woman across the way got excited and said, "I know you! You're Heissatopia! That's Miriam and this is Rachel!" Then she got a little embarrassed and admitted, "I read your blog. I'm Doug's mom...Geneen linked to it and I just started reading it one day and..."

I told her that she didn't have to be embarrassed because everybody blog-stalks somebody. I know both my mother and my mother-in-law read my friends' blogs, so why shouldn't my friends' moms read my blog? (I'm happy when I hear of anyone reading what I write.) Her son, Doug's brother, is on the BYU Folk Dance Team, so the family travelled to Nauvoo to watch him perform. Except Doug didn't come because he stayed home to work.

The carriage ride was good, though slightly disorienting. Life without mountains is disorienting in general. I don't know how people ever know which direction they're facing. I mean, it's hard enough for me with mountains.

We knew Monte'd be working the tin shop (though, come to find out, he wasn't scheduled to be in the tin shop until noon) but we didn't know where Marie would be stationed. So, we just wandered on down the street to the Brigham Young home. And who do you think we found inside?

Cousin Marie.

She gave us the tour and even let us into the wine cellar, though she adamantly denied that it was a wine cellar and was only used for roots and other such things. My children certainly used it for their whines.

From there we went to the blacksmith, where we saw a missionary—who was a high school calculus teacher before retiring—fashion a (mini) horseshoe. He gave Rachel the horseshoe and let everyone pick out a prairie diamond (which is just a steel nail bent into a ring). We then stopped by the Hall of the Seventies, where there's a book that you can sign if you descend from a seventy. Karen signed because Andrew's ancestor, Joseph Murdock (or his son, Joseph Stacey Murdock), was a seventy. My ancestors were not, as far as I know, though Solomon Hancock's brother, Levi, was the president of the seventy.

We then walked the Trail of Hope—the last stretch of Nauvoo road the pioneers set foot on. 

It was certainly poignant to walk the direction they would have gone, with their backs against the city they built brick by brick.

But, it's called the Trail of Hope for a reason because the Saints left with great faith—a hope for things to come. Joseph Smith, their beloved leader, was gone, but Brigham Young was there to carry on that mantle and lead the way to the Great Basin.

The Mississippi River is huge. It's like Nile-wide. (Okay, so the Mississippi River only ever gets to be around 1 mile wide while the Nile can gets up to 5 miles at its widest point. Still. It's a huge river.) 

I don't know how anyone managed to cross it successfully with oxen and horses and wagons and everything. I mean, they had ferries, but still. What a dreary ordeal that must have been, especially in the winter!

We spent a while in the Pioneer Memorial, which contains the names of many of those who died along the Mormon Trail, including the names of several of our ancestors. Obviously subsequent generations survived the trek (or else we wouldn't be here), but many died. There is a bronze plaque outside which reads, "In memory of our God, our religion, and freedom, and our peace, our wives, our children." It was certainly a fitting application of the Title of Liberty.

To keep Rachel in high spirits we had promised her that we would stop by Pioneer Pastimes again before we left Nauvoo, so we walked back up Parley Street (aka the Trail of Hope) and made our way to the Tin Shop to visit Monte.

Rachel left his presentation a little early and ran off to Pioneer Pastimes by herself where she got all suited up in pioneer garb and found the baby she had been playing with earlier.

She was a little miffed that someone else was using the broom but eventually found it and got to sweep while holding her baby.

We set out lunch at a nearby picnic table and everyone ate, except for Rachel, who was clearly much too busy tending babies and sweeping floors to bother with a sandwich.

After lunch we went to the "other side" of town, if you will. The Community of Christ, you see, owns the southern "flatlands" of Nauvoo, while The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints owns most of the rest of historic Nauvoo. It's where you'll find the Mansion House, the Homestead House, the gravesite of Joseph and Hyrum Smith, and the Red Brick Store.

The Homestead house is where Joseph and Emma lived when they first settled in Nauvoo. It's relatively small but has a beautiful view of the Mississippi River. There was a fake staircase in the cellar where Joseph Smith would hide when angry men were out searching for him.

When the Mansion House was built, they followed the tradition of hiding by building a hidden ladder in the closet in the master bedroom that led into the attic. The Mansion House was part of a larger hotel that the Smiths ran, but the hotel part was later torn down. The Smiths didn't even live in the mansion for very long; when things got to be too much for them (running the store, running the hotel, running the church, running for president, etc) they gave up the hospitality industry, rented out their home and lived in the maid's chamber with their children.

Joseph is currently buried between his wife, Emma, and his brother, Hyrum. After he died at Carthage, his body was brought back to Nauvoo and they had a large funeral for him, but instead of burying his actual body, they buried a coffin filled with sandbags (expecting people to dig up the grave and desecrate his body). I believe his body (along with Hyrums) was stored in the unfinished walls of the Nauvoo House while Emma was deciding where to bury him. She eventually buried his body "somewhere" on their property but didn't ever say exactly where. Before she died she obviously had to have told her children where since they buried her in the same place. Unfortunately, by the 1900s no one could remember the exact location of the bodies and since the Mississippi River had been dammed upstream the river was rising and people started fearing the bodies would be washed away. So, in 1928 the Community of Christ excavated and excavated and excavated until they found the bodies buried under one of the out buildings of the Homestead House. It was apparently a bee house and is pictured below, along with the current grave.

It was interesting hearing early church history from the missionaries from the Community of Christ. We share so many important events and are so similar...and yet so different. For example, the parts of Nauvoo that the LDS church runs are free for everybody and are open to the public. The parts of Nauvoo that the Community of Christ operates are closed to the public; they keep their buildings locked and you can only go in with a guide, who you pay. It was certainly a different feeling.

Linguistically it was interesting for me, though. When we were in the Red Brick Store, we listened to a short lecture upstairs by a member of the Community of Christ, who mentioned that the very room we were sitting in is where the Relief Society was formed (on March 17, 1842) and was also where the first endowment ceremony in Nauvoo was formed, "as understood by the LDS church."

It was so weird to hear him say that because that's something that we, as members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, will often say. For example, as found in the eighth Article of Faith: We believe the Bible to be the word of God, as far as it is translated correctly; we also believe the Book of Mormon to be the word of God.

The emphasis is mine, but it just shows that we've been taking on "as much as we understand" for quite some time. But usually when I hear it it means "we don't claim to know everything, but this is what we believe and we believe it to be true." So if it had been a Mormon standing there, telling me that this was where the first endowment ceremony in Nauvoo was performed, "as understood by the LDS church," then he would have meant that he believed that our understanding was correct. But because it wasn't a Mormon and was a member of the Community of Christ saying it, I got the understanding that he thought we were dead wrong.

It was a fascinating sentence to hear because it was saturated with so much innuendo.

It was nice to visit the homes of Joseph Smith, but it was kind of weird to be in the company of people whose religion is so intwined, yet so different from my own. I find religion fascinating—we have multiple copies of the Quran and the Catechism of the Catholic Church sitting on our bookshelf right now, among other books of scripture not canonized in our own church—but I've never studied much about the Community of Christ or other offshoots of the LDS faith.

I've been teased about worshipping Joseph Smith, drinking cat's blood, and growing horns, but I've never met anyone who got teary eyed while talking about Joseph Smith's martyrdom who wasn't a Mormon. It was like entering another dimension. Our guide would be talking and I'd be nodding my head and agreeing with what she was saying and then she'd throw out something like, "And do you know the name of Joseph Smith III's wife?"

That question was met with absolute silence.

"It was Emma! So Lucy must have felt pretty left out, having married a Joseph Smith and not being called Emma."

We don't talk about Joseph Smith III a lot in Sunday School. Or, like, ever. So how would we know what his wife's name was? And then I'd remember that we weren't talking to a fellow Mormon; we were talking to a member of the Community of Christ, who believes that Joseph Smith III was the successor of Joseph Smith, Jr, while we believe that Brigham Young became the second prophet of this dispensation.

While it was weird, I didn't mind it at all. We're actually on a pretty chummy basis with the Community of Christ and we share manuscripts and things. We both believe in letting others worship "how, where, or what they may" so we're rather tolerant of each other.

Andrew says it is kind of like Shi'a vs. Sunni Muslims, and I imagine it might be kind of weird for them, as well, to meet each other and know that they share so much religious background but differ on such important aspects.

Anyway, by the time we had finished touring around, we were well behind schedule. Grandma was kind enough to buy the girls bonnets at the Red Brick Store and then we stopped by a few places Emily and Morgan wanted to visit together.

I don't quite remember what the first place is called, but I know that this bridge is in the movie Legacy and that the two main characters kiss underneath it (and that's probably why Emily and Morgan wanted to visit there as well). Though I might be remembering it wrong; it might have been Joseph and Emma kissing under the bridge... At any rate, that waterfall behind us is is certainly in the shot, as is the bridge above us.

I think that it might have been some of the original canals that the Saints dug, if I recall what Emily told me correctly. She'll have to tell us what this place is called.

We also visited a place that I also can't remember the name of (the only thing that comes to mind is Davy Jones' Locker; and I know that's not right—it's just in my brain because Andrew and I recently had a "Pirates marathon."). It's David...something...David's Chamber! That's it.

It was so noisy there; almost too noisy to be enjoyable. Cicadas were everywhere. They were flying into us and all around us. I prodded one with a stick to see what it would do and it just buzzed at me angrily.

Apparently they don't fly away if you prod them.

On our way out of Nauvoo we stopped to do a little souvenir shopping at the gift shops downtown. The girls weren't interested in going inside the stores so I sat with them on the sidewalk and we ate snacks. Rachel, specifically, was ravenous. It was like she hadn't eaten lunch or something...oh, wait, that's right! She didn't!

We didn't do much driving since it only took us a few hours to get to Steve and Jodie's house in Iowa. We got there late enough; they had delayed having dinner (and kept their kids up) until nearly 9:00 PM and squeezed us into their cute, little home. They insisted that we stay because they so rarely get visitors out their way and were thrilled that we stopped by. Rachel was having so much fun with their kids, anyway, that we didn't want to tear her away. It was quite the juggling act to find beds for everyone, though Jodie (seven months pregnant) did a fine job being hospitable.


  1. As we were discussing the Shi'a and Sunni in my Islam class, I thought exactly the same thing: LDS is to Sunni as CofC is to Shi'a.

  2. Today I'm confident that my next house WILL have a whine cellar.