The marker is located south of Nauvoo in a large turnout/rest area on the west side of Route 96.
Division of Highways and The Illinois State Historical Society
Nauvoo was once the site of a Sauk and Fox Village. After the Indians moved west of the Mississippi, promoters attempted to develop town sites here but the marshy bottom lands attracted few settlers.
In 1839, the Mormon Prophet Joseph Smith chose the town, then called Commerce, as the home for his followers, who had been driven from Missouri. The Mormons named the community Nauvoo, said to mean 'beautiful place,' and obtained a special charter from the Illinois legislature, which gave the city government its own courts, militia, university, and all other governmental powers not prohibited by the federal and state constitutions.
Mormon converts from all parts of America and Europe soon swelled the population to about 15,000 making Nauvoo one of the largest cities in Illinois by 1845. But some of the Mormons as well as their gentile neighbors began to resent the civil and religious authority of the Mormon leaders, and frictions in the area grew severe. When the Nauvoo City Council had an anti-Mormon newspaper destroyed, the Mormon leaders were arrested and jailed at Carthage. There, on June 27, 1844, an armed mob shot and killed Joseph Smith and his brother, Hyrum. Conflict between the Mormons and their neighbors continued until 1846 when the Mormons completed their exodus from the state.
In 1849, Etienne Cabet's followers, the Icarians, came to Nauvoo to practice their form of religious communism but dissensions soon weakened the colony. Their experiment lasted less than ten years.
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