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10 things you may not have known about Nauvoo

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This story is sponsored by Beautiful Nauvoo. Learn more about Beautiful Nauvoo.

Nauvoo is well-known among Mormons as the gathering place for Latter-day Saints in the 1840s, site of the Church’s second completed temple and launching point for America’s greatest westward migration, but here are 10 facts you may not have known before:

1. Nauvoo has been renamed three times. Its first recorded name was Quashquema, named after the Native American chief who led the Sauk and Fox tribes. Its name was changed in 1827 to Venus, followed by Commerce (1834) and then Nauvoo (1840), a Hebrew word that means “beautiful place” or “city beautiful.”

2. Some historians believe that Nauvoo rivaled the population of Chicago in 1842, making it one of the largest cities in the state of Illinois.

3. One home visitors can tour in Nauvoo belonged to Sarah Granger Kimball and Hiram Kimball. Sarah helped form the Ladies’ Society of Nauvoo that became the Relief Society in 1842. But Sarah went on to become president of the Utah Woman Suffrage Association, campaigning for women’s equality throughout her life.

4. During the mid-1840s, Nauvoo was defended by the state-sanctioned Nauvoo Legion, a militia with 2,500 troops, according to Western Illinois University. In contrast, the United States had a standing army of 8,500 at the time.


5. After the Saints left Nauvoo the Icarians, a French communal group, came and occupied the Nauvoo Temple block. Many of their artifacts can be found in the Weld House Museum in Nauvoo.

6. Nauvoo, located on a National Scenic Byway, is a gathering place for birdwatchers. In “one weekend, the Audubon Society identified 127 species of birds in the Nauvoo area.”

7. When Nauvoo was seeking legitimacy as a civil municipality from the state of Illinois, then-representative Abraham Lincoln voted in favor of the act.

8. In 1843, Mormons petitioned Congress to allow Nauvoo to exist as a territory—effectively no longer part of the United States. The petition was denied, perhaps because Congress feared the strength of the Nauvoo Legion in case of conflict.

9. Nauvoo was home to the largest German-speaking population in Illinois for the 50-year period preceding World War I.

10. Nauvoo has one of the oldest grape vineyards in the country. It is located within Nauvoo State Park and is more than 165 years old.

BONUS: In celebration of Halloween, Nauvoo residents hand-carve over 500 pumpkins to display along Mulholland Street for one fun-filled evening.

Nauvoo is filled with rich history, tradition, and natural beauty. Be sure to set aside a few days to explore it.

If you and your family are interested in participating in the celebrations and commemorations of the people who gave so much for their faith and their families, visit Beautiful Nauvoo to get more information about when the festivities take place.