Friday, October 15
Before leaving Nauvoo, I decided to visit the old Mormon village which has been partially restored and includes the house of Joseph Smith - the founding prophet of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints - whose followers are more commonly called “The Mormons.” As most know, the early Mormons suffered religious discrimination and were basically unwanted neighbors by most Americans of that era and after Joseph Smith was killed, they were led west to the now Salt Lake City area by Brigham Young and others. Though their headquarters are today in Utah, this Illinois site is of profound importance and they obviously are interested in its preservation and safe keeping. Until my visit I was unaware that the Mormon Church has divided into different sects or divisions. One sect, now known as the "Community of Christ" has control of the Nauvoo site and the larger LDS church of Utah wants to buy it from them but the Community of Christ is unwilling to sell. I will not wade any deeper into this religious-political issue for I am ignorant of the subject and also not a Mormon though I do find it interesting.
After visiting the village and Joseph Smith's house and gravesite (a Mormon told me he may not really be buried there - only the church leaders know for sure) I continued south alongside the Mississippi River for a most lovely walk. A woman driving by handed me a McDonald’s “Happy Meal” and I stopped to rest along the river, put my feet into the water, and happily ate my meal.
I turned east on Highway 136 and at the end of the day arrived in Carthage, Illinois. It was here that Joseph Smith and his son were killed in 1844 by a mob while being held in the pictured jail. Again, this site is significant to today's Mormons and they have restored the jail and have a very lovely park and information center located here.
After my visit it was nearly dark and I had no place to stay for the night. Therefore, for the first time, I knocked on a stranger's door and asked permission to camp in his back yard. He said, “Yes,” and I said “Thanks.”
I am sure that it is only the first of others to come.