Unit 30: Day 2, Leaving Nauvoo; the Trek across Iowa; Doctrine and Covenants 136:1–18

    “Unit 30: Day 2, Leaving Nauvoo; the Trek across Iowa; Doctrine and Covenants 136:1–18,” Doctrine and Covenants and Church History Study Guide for Home-Study Seminary Students (2017)

    “Unit 30: Day 2,” Doctrine and Covenants and Church History Study Guide

    Unit 30: Day 2

    Leaving Nauvoo; the Trek across Iowa; Doctrine and Covenants 136:1–18


    After the Prophet Joseph Smith was martyred, the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, under the direction of Brigham Young, the President of the Quorum of the Twelve, led the Church and carried on the work of the Lord. They encouraged the Saints to complete the Nauvoo Temple and to prepare to move west.

    The Saints Work Diligently to Receive the Blessings of the Temple

    Think of a time when you did something difficult because you knew the outcome would be worth the effort.

    One of the difficult tasks the Saints were directed to do after the death of the Prophet Joseph Smith was complete the Nauvoo Temple. It took great sacrifice for the Saints to build the Nauvoo Temple. As you read the following paragraph, underline sacrifices the Saints made to build the first temple in Nauvoo:

    Nauvoo Temple

    The original Nauvoo Temple

    In the October 1844 general conference, President Brigham Young asked the Saints to give their tithes and offerings to build the temple. In response, Relief Society members each contributed a penny a week for building supplies. Many men tithed their time by working on the temple one day out of every ten. Others gave more than one-tenth of their means. Joseph Toronto gave Brigham Young $2,500 in gold and said he wanted to give all that he had to build the kingdom of God.

    Why do you think the Saints were willing to sacrifice so much to build the temple?

    Even though the Saints sacrificed to build the Nauvoo Temple, persecution made the completion of the temple difficult. Many enemies of the Church thought that once the Prophet Joseph Smith was killed, the Church would collapse. However, when Church members remained faithful and the Church continued to progress, enemies of the Church intensified their efforts to drive the Saints from Illinois.

    As you read the following paragraphs, look for what the enemies of the Church did to try to destroy the Church:

    In September 1844 Colonel Levi Williams, who had been involved in the murders of Joseph and Hyrum Smith, organized a major military campaign to force the Latter-day Saints out of Illinois. It was advertised as “a great wolf hunt in Hancock County” (David E. Miller and Della S. Miller, Nauvoo: The City of Joseph [1974], 186). Upon hearing of this, Governor Thomas Ford of Illinois sent General John Hardin of the state militia to the county to keep the peace.

    A year later, in September 1845, Colonel Williams led a mob of 300 men who raided Latter-day Saints’ settlements in outlying areas, burning many unprotected homes, farm buildings, mills, and grain stacks. In mid-September, President Brigham Young asked for volunteers to rescue those Saints. The Saints in Nauvoo prepared 134 wagons to bring the families in the outlying settlements safely to Nauvoo.

    How would these attacks have made it difficult to continue working on the temple?

    Many residents of Illinois feared that the presence of the Latter-day Saints might lead to a civil war. They asked the Saints to leave the state. On September 24, 1845, the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles promised that the Church would leave the following spring.

    Ponder why the decision to leave Illinois might have been a difficult one to make. Also consider how the decision to leave Nauvoo might have affected the Saints’ efforts to complete the temple.

    Even though the Saints knew they would have to leave Illinois, they continued to build the Nauvoo Temple.

    1. journal icon
      Answer the following question in your scripture study journal: Why do you think the Saints continued to work on the temple even though they knew they were going to leave?

    At that time, temple ordinances necessary for exaltation were not yet available to the general membership of the Church. In an 1841 revelation, the Lord promised the Saints that if they built the Nauvoo Temple, they would be able to receive those saving ordinances (see D&C 124:22–44).

    These Saints had faith that temple ordinances would prepare them to abide in the presence of Heavenly Father in eternity and that their families could be eternally sealed together. The accounts of the Saints’ sacrifices and difficulties they overcame to build the temple teach us the following truth: Receiving temple ordinances is worth all our righteous effort and sacrifice.

    1. journal icon
      Answer the following questions in your scripture study journal:

      1. Why do you think receiving the ordinances of the temple is worth working hard and making sacrifices?

      2. What do you need to do so you can receive temple ordinances?

    Ponder if there is anything you need to stop doing or start doing in order to obtain the blessings of the temple.

    President Thomas S. Monson

    President Thomas S. Monson described the sacrifices some modern-day Saints made in order to receive temple ordinances: “Many years ago I read of a group of over a hundred members who left Manaus, [Brazil,] located in the heart of the Amazon rain forest, to travel to what was then the closest temple, located in São Paulo, Brazil—nearly 2,500 miles (4,000 km) from Manaus. Those faithful Saints journeyed by boat for four days on the Amazon River and its tributaries. After completing this journey by water, they boarded buses for another three days of travel—over bumpy roads, with very little to eat, and with nowhere comfortable to sleep. After seven days and nights, they arrived at the temple in São Paulo, where ordinances eternal in nature were performed. Of course their return journey was just as difficult. However, they had received the ordinances and blessings of the temple, and although their purses were empty, they themselves were filled with the spirit of the temple and with gratitude for the blessings they had received” (“The Holy Temple—a Beacon to the World,” Ensign or Liahona, May 2011, 91).

    How can these Saints’ example inspire you as you prepare to receive temple ordinances?

    Read the following paragraphs, and underline examples of the Nauvoo Saints’ righteous efforts to receive temple ordinances:

    Church leaders dedicated rooms in the Nauvoo Temple as those rooms were completed, so that ordinance work could begin as early as possible. The attic of the temple was dedicated for ordinance work on November 30, 1845. The Saints began receiving their endowments on the evening of December 10, with endowment sessions continuing until 3:00 a.m. on December 11.

    President Brigham Young

    President Brigham Young worked tirelessly to provide temple ordinances for the Saints before they were forced to leave Nauvoo, Illinois.

    By the end of 1845, over 1,000 members had received temple ordinances. In January 1846, President Brigham Young recorded, “Such has been the anxiety manifested by the saints to receive the ordinances [of the Temple], and such the anxiety on our part to administer to them, that I have given myself up entirely to the work of the Lord in the Temple night and day, not taking more than four hours sleep, upon an average, per day, and going home but once a week” (in History of the Church, 7:567). Many Church members contributed by washing the temple clothing each night so the work could continue the next morning without delay.

    On February 3, 1846, President Young left the temple to make final preparations to leave Nauvoo the next day on the journey west. However, a large crowd had gathered to receive their endowments, and he compassionately returned to serve them. This delayed his departure for another two weeks. According to temple records, 5,615 Saints were endowed before going west. (See Church History in the Fulness of Times Student Manual, 2nd ed. [Church Educational System manual, 2003], 303–4.)

    1. journal icon
      Answer the following questions in your scripture study journal:

      1. What impresses you about the Saints’ efforts to receive temple ordinances?

      2. What efforts and sacrifices do we need to make to receive temple ordinances?

    The Saints Leave Nauvoo

    After receiving temple ordinances, the Saints began to leave Nauvoo in February 1846. However, not all Church members left with the main body of the Saints. A small number were not prepared in time to leave, and some chose to stay.

    Many of the Saints who remained in Nauvoo continued to experience persecution. In September 1846, seven months after the main group of Saints had departed, approximately 800 people, armed with six cannons, prepared to attack Nauvoo. The remaining Saints and some new citizens, numbering only about 150 fighting men, prepared to defend the city.

    After a few days of fighting, the Saints were forced to surrender and were told to leave the city immediately. The mob then entered the city, looted homes, and vandalized the temple. Some Saints who were not able to escape fast enough were beaten or thrown into the Mississippi River. After the Saints fled Nauvoo, they set up refugee camps along the western bank of the river. Most people did not have enough food or supplies to sustain themselves.

    Church leaders sent rescue parties back across the difficult terrain of Iowa to help the suffering Saints.

    1. journal icon
      Answer the following question in your scripture study journal: How do you think you might have felt if you had been called to return to help those suffering Saints?

    Read the following message President Brigham Young gave to the men who were charged with recruiting the rescue parties:

    President Brigham Young

    “Let the fire of the covenant which you made in the House of the Lord, burn in your hearts, like flame unquenchable, till you … have searched out every man … who [is able to leave], and impart the fire to his soul, till he shall rise up … and go straitway, and bring a load of the poor from Nauvoo. …

    “… This is a day of action” (Journal History of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, Sept. 28, 1846, 5–6, Church History Library, Salt Lake City).

    Brigham Young’s statement teaches us that the Lord requires us to live by the covenants we make.

    1. journal icon
      Answer the following questions in your scripture study journal:

      1. What sacrifices have you made to keep covenants?

      2. What blessings have you experienced because you have lived according to the covenants you have made?

    The Saints Cross Iowa and Establish Headquarters at Winter Quarters

    When the main body of the Saints began leaving Nauvoo in February 1846, they journeyed west across the state of Iowa. “Leaving Nauvoo was an act of faith for the Saints. They departed without knowing exactly where they were going or when they would arrive at a place to settle. They only knew that they were on the verge of being driven out of Illinois by their enemies and that their leaders had received revelation to locate a refuge somewhere in the Rocky Mountains” (Church History in the Fulness of Times Student Manual, 309).

    As you read the following account of Orson and Catherine Spencer, look for examples of their faith and trust:

    “After leaving Nauvoo, [Catherine], ever delicate and frail, sank rapidly under the ever accumulating hardships. The sorrowing husband wrote imploringly to the wife’s parents, asking them to receive her into their home until the Saints should find an abiding place. The answer came, ‘Let her renounce her degrading faith and she can come back, but never until she does.’

    “When the letter was read to her, she asked her husband to get his Bible and to turn to the book of Ruth and read the first chapter, sixteenth and seventeenth verses: ‘Entreat me not to leave thee or to return from following after thee; for whither thou goest I will go, and where thou lodgest I will lodge. Thy people shall be my people and thy God my God’” (Memoirs of John R. Young: Utah Pioneer 1847 [1920], 17–18). Catherine Spencer died shortly thereafter.

    The Saints met with more difficulties as they traveled. Because of excessive rain and insufficient supplies, the Saints spent four months making the 300-mile journey across Iowa. Considering this slow pace, Church leaders decided not to continue west to the Rocky Mountains until the spring of 1847. They counseled the Saints to settle for the winter. One of the largest settlements, Winter Quarters, was located on the west side of the Missouri River, in the present state of Nebraska.

    Winter Quarters

    The temporary settlement of Winter Quarters

    Doctrine and Covenants 136:1–18

    The Lord counsels the Saints to organize themselves and prepare to continue their journey west

    President Brigham Young received the revelation recorded in Doctrine and Covenants 136 at Winter Quarters in January 1847.

    As you study Doctrine and Covenants 136:1–18, notice the Lord’s counsel regarding how the Saints were to organize themselves and prepare to continue their journey west.

    You will learn more about the journey west with your teacher in the lesson for this unit.

    1. journal icon
      Write the following at the bottom of today’s assignments in your scripture study journal:

      I have studied “Leaving Nauvoo,” “The Trek across Iowa,” and Doctrine and Covenants 136:1–18 and completed this lesson on (date).

      Additional questions, thoughts, and insights I would like to share with my teacher: