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Nauvoo Temple (Nauvoo, Ill. : 1841-1850)

 Organization

Dates

  • Existence: 1841-1850

Administrative History

The Nauvoo Temple (1841-1850), in Nauvoo, Illinois was the second temple built by the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Never fully finished, it was set on fire by arsonists in 1848, and the building was destroyed by 1850.

In October of 1840, the prophet, Joseph Smith, called upon the Saints to help build the Nauvoo Temple. Though some of the construction would require payment, he explained that the temple would be built by the tithes of the people and that male members would perform nearly all the labor. Many volunteered to labor continually, and the men were giving one-tenth part of their time, or one-tenth part of their income, according to circumstances; while women were knitting socks and mittens, and preparing garments for the laborers, so that the men would be made as comfortable as possible while working outside during the winter.

Initially baptisms for the dead were performed in the Mississippi River, but the Saints hastened to prepare the basement of the temple with a temporary wooden font, which rested upon the shoulders of 12 carved oxen. It was dedicated on 8 November 1841, and Saints joyfully began the work for their dead ancestors.

Joseph Smith also taught of temple sealing ordinances that assured family relationships would continue after the Resurrection. On 4 May 1842 the Prophet Joseph Smith administered for the first time what we know as the temple endowment to nine men in a large upper room of his red brick store.

Early in 1844 the Prophet Joseph called together the Quorum of the Twelve and administered to them all the ordinances of the house of the Lord. He proceeded to confer the keys of the sealing power on Elder Brigham Young. The Prophet then declared, “Now if they kill me you have got all the keys, and all the ordinances, and you can confer them upon others.” On 27 June 1844, the Prophet and his brother Hyrum were martyred at Carthage. Construction on the temple stopped then, but only briefly.

On 30 November 1845 the attic story was dedicated, and the administering of endowments commenced on 10 December. Over the next eight weeks, about 5,600 Saints received their temple ordinances, including 295 on the day before wagons began leaving the city and heading west. All felt satisfied that during the two months they occupied the temple in the endowment of the Saints, they were amply paid for all their labors in building it.

Never fully finished, the temple was set on fire by arsonists in 1848. The building was totally destroyed by 1850.

Citation

McGavin, E.C. The Nauvoo Temple, 1962: p. 1 (The year 1841 ... authorized the building of the Nauvoo Temple)

Colvin, Don F. A historical study of the Mormon temple at Nauvoo, Illinois, 1962.

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, via WWW, April 9, 2002 (The Original Nauvoo Temple, Foundation stones had been laid by March of 1841, and an official cornerstone laying ceremony was conducted on 6 April 1841; Portions of the temple were dedicated and used prior to its completion in the spring of 1846. A public dedication service for the Nauvoo temple took place on May 1. An uncontrolled lawless element forced the removal of the Latter-day Saints from Nauvoo, leaving their temple behind. In October 1848, an arsonist destroyed the interior of the temple. In May 1850, a tornado knocked down one wall of the gutted structure and weakened the other walls, which were eventually taken down)

Found in 5 Collections and/or Records:

John Brown letter

 File — Folder: 1
Identifier: MSS 3174
Scope and Contents One letter (3 pages), dated 17 April 1845, written from Nauvoo, Illinois, by John Brown to his wife, Elizabeth Crosby Brown, who was residing in Athens, Monroe County, Mississippi. The letter informs his wife that he is working on the Nauvoo temple and has been instructed by Brigham Young to stay there and work on it through the fall and winter as well. He says that Brigham Young has declared that a woman cannot perform work for deceased men in the temple but only for women. He wishes her to be...
Dates: 1845 April 17

Robert Filmore letter

 File — Folder: 1
Identifier: MSS 1339
Scope and Contents Photocopy of a handwritten and signed letter, dated 6 July 1844, and composed in Warren County, Illinois. Filmore writes to "dear children" and tells them about the murder of the first president of the Mormon Church, Joseph Smith, and his brother Hyrum. He also speaks about the Mormon temple in Nauvoo, Illinois.
Dates: 1844 july 6

Joseph E. Arrington manuscripts of the Nauvoo Temple , approximately 1930-1950

 Series — Multiple Containers
Identifier: MSS 4194 Series 1
Scope and Contents Contains materials relating to Joseph Arrington's study of the Nauvoo Temple. Arrington researched the architecture, possible reconstruction, and history of the Nauvoo Temple. He wrote and revised several manuscripts over a period of several years. His final work is titled "Temple-Building in Mormon Philosophy: The Spiritual Significance of the Nauvoo Temple for the Latter-day Saints" and was more than 2,500 pages long. Elder John Widtsoe of the Quorum of the 12 Apostles took interest in the...
Dates: approximately 1930-1950

Benjamin Riter letters

 File — Folder: 1
Identifier: MSS 3140
Scope and Contents Two letters, written by Benjamin Riter in 1849 and 1850, describing the conditions in Nauvoo, Ill. following the exodus of the Saints. Letters are addressed to a Morgan J. Thomas of Philadelphia, Pa. The first letter describes the future prospects of the city, including information on land purchases and some of the recent settlers. It also describes Riter's involvement in mob activities against the Latter-day Saints. The second seeks additional information about some of the individuals...
Dates: 1849-1850

A. O. Smoot family papers

 Collection — Multiple Containers
Identifier: MSS 3843
Overview The A. O. Smoot family papers consists of correspondence, publications, genealogy records, journals, account books, receipts, and related ephemera, 1836-1947. The collection covers several generations and family members of the Smoot Family.
Dates: 1836-1947