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VISITING FORMER HOME, EXILES FELT NOSTALGIA AND SADNESS

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The earliest of the pilgrims to visit Nauvoo after the saints were driven outT were the former residents themselves. . . . Through these visits the exiles recovered what Howard R. Driggs called a "wealth of memories." Nostalgia filled their reports.

Elder Franklin D. Richards reported in 1886 one such ritual of remembering: "We drank at the well which I dug," he said. "We plucked locust seeds from trees which I planted more than 40 years ago. We picked bits from the moss-covered, crumbling pickets which I shaped with my own hands when I was in the flush of young manhood . . . . The house itself was gone. A small shanty stood in its place, surrounded by lilacs in full bloom." For most of the returning Old Nauvooers, the joy of return was tempered by a realization of what their old Nauvoo had become without them. [Elder] Richards exclaimed, "Oh, the old home of the saints, once so great, so lovely and so dear; but now fallen into desecration and decay!"After her visit to the old family home in 1883, Sarah Kimball said, "I . . . felt like weeping over the desolation."

The Church agents from Utah shared in this perspective. Visiting Nauvoo to complete unfinished business or to encourage laggers to move west, they chronicled the decline of Joseph's abandoned New Jerusalem.

While John Scott was gathering up lingering saints in 1848, he climbed to the roof of the temple for a view of the city. "It's truly a scene of destruction," he wrote that night. "All parts of the temple, city and surrounding country is one scene of desolation; horror and dread seemed to be depicted in the countenance of every person that lives in Nauvoo. Not even the saints that live there are altogether clear of the same doleful looks."

"A wilderness! . . ." exclaimed Andrew Jenson in 1925. "I wandered through the weed-covered streets, one after another, and only here and there saw a human habitation surrounded by weeds. . . . I came to the conclusion that a curse had indeed rested upon the place ever since the saints were driven from there." This memory of Nauvoo as deserted city, popularized by Thomas L. Kane's 1850 address, [influenced] Mormon visitors for a generation. - "Remembering Nauvoo: Historiographical Considerations," Glen M. Leonard, Director of Museum of Church History and Art