Smith, Geo. A., "Cor[r]espondence of Hon. Geo. A. Smith," The Mormon, 15 Nov. 1856, 3.
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- Company Unknown (1856)
ST. LOUIS, Nov. 6, 1856.
ELDER T. B. H. STENHOUSE—Dear Brother:
Your letter of October 27th has just been received, and I hasten to continue our correspondence.
My health is good, I have just returned from a visit to the Saints in Quincy and Keokuk [Keokuck], whither I accompanied Elder Erastus Snow. We were gladly received, listened to and hospitably entertained by our friends in those places. Elder Snow preached in the Danish language to the Saints in Keokik [Keokuck], a considerable number from that county having located in that place until the return of spring.
We also made a flying visit to Nauvoo or the city of Joseph. I should judge that about three fourths of the Mormon buildings had been torn down, removed, or destroyed. Many of the best buildings remaining, show clearly the effects of ten years neglect. Although most of them are inhabited, few appear to be kept in repair. The Mansion is kept by Louis Bideman [Lewis Crum Bidamon], who married the widow of the late President Joseph Smith; the building appears not to have been renovated since it was built, and its business as a public house is too small to justify its being kept in its original style. A part of the stone wall of the west front of the Temple is still standing, the residue of the materials having been used by the Icarians, who have built an establishment on the Temple Block. Several large stacks of hay were standing against the dilapidated wall.
Mr. Bideman informed us that the Temple was set on fire, by a man named Joseph Agnoe, at the instigation of certain mobocrats of Warsaw and other parts of the country, and it was a serious drawback to his business as hotel-keeper, as great numbers visited Nauvoo to see the Temple. My mind imperceptibly drew a contrast between Nauvoo in its glory and Salt Lake City, and from looking at the Masonic Hall, Seventies and Concert Halls, and Arsenal, my conclusion was that Salt Lake City is so far ahead of Nauvoo, that the latter could be better compared with Provo, more properly in its public buidings, machinery &c; but not in population. The site of Nauvoo is by nature the most beautiful in position on the Western Rivers. Several gentlemen with whom I conversed in relation to it, said that had the Mormons been left alone it would have been the largest City in the Western States, and the great mart of trade and railway Terminus.
The people of Hancock "cut off their nose to spite their face," they now see that had they been quiet and left their neighbors alone, they would now have been rich, but alas! it is now too late. By comparison it will be seen that the footing of the Temple wall in Salt Lake City, contains as many yards of masonry as the entire Temple in Nauvoo. The rock for the Nauvoo Temple was hauled from a limestone quarry about two miles distant while that in the Great Salt Lake, is hauled about six miles: nine feet of sand-stone foundation being already laid, the residue of the Temple to be granite, from the Cotton Wood Quarry.
To look upon the dilapidated ruins in Nauvoo and contrast it with its brilliant position in the days of the Prophet, it was enough to make any heart sad that was not insensible. Ten years ago last winter my children were driven from a comfortable habitation in this city, and I have wandered with them, until overcome by exposure and suffering I was called to deposit some of their mortal remains upon the desolate prairie, and my tale, were I to relate it, would be only the reiteration of what might be told by thousands who had been occupying happy homes of their own in republican Illinois. Those reflections and instead of the Prophet and his noble brothers in brilliant array at the head of the Legion, or in the Congregation surrounded by thousands of anxious listeners, it was to visit a cold, silent and mournful burying place, where lay the dust of the first Patriarch over the Church, Joseph Smith sen., Lucy his wife and four sons who by the hand of cruel persecution and exposure have met an untimely fate. Not a stone to mark the spot, no weeping willow, or fragrant balm of Gilead, no poplar to shade the sacred resting place of Prophets, Presidents, Patriarchs, Councillors, and Generals in Israel: here we could drop a silent tear, if grief did not suppress it, and here we offered a silent prayer to Heaven's King, that we might fulfill our destiny as well as they had done, that when we find our last earthly abode, that we like them might be prepared for exaltation and celestial lives. Elder Snow and myself left the desolate City with hearts filled with sadness.
On our arrival at Montrose we incidentally learned that a Pennsylvania Mormon kept a Hotel who was very kind to us, but the word Mormon must not be pronounced above a whisper. We visited the grave of Levi Snow Esq, Elder E. Snow's father whose funeral I attended fifteen years ago. My kind remembrance to sister Stenhouse and all friends in which I am joined by Elder Snow.
GEO. A. SMITH.