“Quincy, Illinois, Settlement,” Church History Topics
“Quincy, Illinois, Settlement”
The city of Quincy, Illinois, is best known in Mormon history as a point of relocation for Latter-day Saint refugees after their expulsion from Missouri in 1839. The people of Quincy first encountered Mormons when groups of Latter-day Saints passed through the village on their way to Missouri between 1834 and 1838. When Mormons were driven from Missouri in the winter of 1838–1839, thousands of displaced Saints left the state, walking eastward across the frozen Mississippi River and settling temporarily in Quincy. As the weather warmed, others came, using skiffs, canoes, or small boats to cross the river until ferries opened for the season. With the arrival of the Mormon refugees, the population of Quincy swelled from 800 in 1835 to 2,300 in 1840.
The Quincy Democratic Association publicly denounced Missourians for their injustice toward the Saints and pledged to assist Mormon refugees. They gathered donations, arranged housing, and coordinated with other local communities to provide assistance for the impoverished Saints. Eliza R. Snow praised the generosity and charity of the townspeople in her poem “To the Citizens of Quincy,” thanking the “Sons and Daughters of Benevolence” for meeting the “urgent wants of the oppress’d and poor.”1
During the next year, the majority of the Saints who had stopped in Quincy moved 45 miles upriver to Commerce, Illinois, where they founded the city of Nauvoo. Sadly, in 1845, a committee from Quincy traveled to Nauvoo to demand that the Saints leave the state.