Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Nashville, Montrose and Zarahemla – Part II

When the Saints flooded into Illinois in 1839, land was purchased on both sides of the Mississippi River, acquiring Illinois land and Iowa land. Then area in Iowa was then called Nashville that later was renamed Zarahemla. 
    As the concluding statement in the last post, “was there any importance attached to this area originally called Nashville and became Zarahemla?” Obviously, from the discussion in the last post, this area of Lee County in south-eastern Iowa, was critical to the Saints five years later when they left for Utah, since their travels were through Iowa, and several of these settled areas became staging camps for the Saints who had been expelled from Nauvoo.
Looking across the river from the Montrose area to Nauvoo, with the ferry crossing from Nauvoo to Iowa in 1842
    On the twenty thousand acres south of Montrose the church bought in 1839, Nashville was founded, built a large stone building for worship and provided a steamboat landing on the river. It was the first landing for steamboats above the rapids where boats docked to onload and offload goods during low water. As Elias Smith wrote in August 1841, “We have a good market here within a few rods of our door.” When the Saints left in May 1846, many Saints crossed to Nashville. In Augusta, a sizable population of Saints clustered on both sides of the Skunk River, those on the north in Des Moines county and those on the south in Lee County. Joseph Smith conducted a conference there in April 1843 with 200 members attending, at which time he wrote in his history, that Augusta was a “flourishing town” with three saw miles and two flour mills.
The Maid of Iowa crossing from Augusta to Nauvoo in 1843. This area along the Mississippi, because of its position above the rapids, was a major transportation corridor for goods and people. Steamboats were a lifeline for Nauvoo as they were to August and all communities, carrying to and transporting from its wharves the large volume of merchandise needed to sustain economic growth
    For a cost of $4,000 members Levi Moffit and Dan Jones built a little 60-ton “stern wheeler” steamboat, christened the Maid of Iowa, in the early autumn of 1842, at Augusta, Iowa, which became an important landing on the Skunk River, to compete in the trade conducted on the smaller rivers emptying into the Mississippi. In 1832, the “tonnage of vessels” registered at New Orleans was 233,065. Ten years later, when the Maid of Iowa made her debut on the river, that figure had risen to 521,644, almost 120 percent increase.
    Joseph Smith purchased shares of the boat in 1843, and despite her small size, and minimal 115’ length, the Maid was used not only to transport goods such as coal, lumber lead military supplies wheat, corn, and pork, up and down the Mississippi, and along most navigable rivers of the Mississippi valley, but served at intermittent periods as a ferry boat across the Mississippi. She also was used for church services for the Saints, and a transport for converts to and religious and political missionaries from Nauvoo, and also hauled workers and supplies for work on the Nauvoo Temple.
    In March 1843, Elders Parley P. Pratt and Levi Richards, having just anded in New Orleans with about two hundred British convert, south to charter a steamer to take their group up river to Nauvoo. Captain Dan Jones, of the Maid of Iowa, who had spent the winter on the lower river in the bayou trade, was looking for passengers and freight destined for the upper Mississippi, and on April 12, loaded the little vessel to her limits, and sailed north, hauling up at the Nauvoo House landing where the passengers were met by Joseph Smith and joyful Nauvoo residents.
    Joseph was the first aboard the boat and could not refrain from shedding tears” at the privilege of again greeting old friends and welcoming the new arrivals. So appreciative was he of Captain Jones’ service that he laid his hand on the captain’s head and said, “Bless this little man,” leading to an affectionate friendship between the two, and eventually to Jones’ conversion and baptism. It was then that Joseph arranged a partnership with Jones in the steamboat trade, buying out Moffit’s share for $1375.
The Iowa City Standard carried a glowing report on April 10, 1842, and above is an ad from the Nauvoo Neighbor of 17 May 1843 
    The timing was most opportune, for with the opening of western and central Iowa after the settlement with the Sac and Fox Indians in the Black Hawk Purchase, huge numbers of land seekers headed for Illinois and on to Iowa. The Maid of Iowa was perfect as a ferry across the Mississippi. So important was the Maid and its ferrying capabilities, even out-of-town newspapers carried stories about it and encouraged the enterprise. Fully loaded, the Maid was capable of hauling about forty tons of freight and two hundred passengers, making five to eight knots and nearly two-thirds that speed when going upstream. The Maid could accommodate 25 to 30 passengers in the boat’s cabin (both male and female quarters) with the rest having deck passage.
Top: Steamboat ticket on the “Maid of Iowa,” issued to Brigham Young and signed by Joseph Smith, Emma Smith, and Dan Jones (boat captain). The 20-cent ticket, dated May 24, 1843, gave Brigham Young passage across the Mississippi River to Augusta, Iowa; Bottom: Numerous steamships docking at Nauvoo and another heading into port in 1844
    By 1845, with over 11,000 people in the city limits of Nauvoo, and the area at its peak (only Chicago, with 15,000 was a larger city, and the Nauvoo area had as many as 17,000 overall), twelve steamships tied up at Nauvoo docks in a five-day period.
    In the beginning, it appeared that the church was settling a larger area in Iowa, creating the Iowa Stake, perhaps not knowing their eventual destination was Utah, or merely in attempting to safeguard their future in case of further troubles, or just the natural expansion of the church. However, according to the 1981 Church Almanac, p 140, “the plan was abandoned…on 6 January 1842, the stake itself was discontinued, but Brother Smith continued to preside over the Saints in Iowa, whose numbers were continually added to by immigrants, until the exodus to Utah.” In 1844 due to mounting animosities, members in outlying areas were often forced to move to Nauvoo.
    As for the revelation where the Lord gave the name of Zarahemla for one of these cities in Iowa, this short 4-verse section relates to the question in verse 1: “What is the will of the Lord concerning the saints in the Territory of Iowa?” in which the Lord says in verse 2 “if they will do my will and keep my commandments concerning them, let them gather themselves together unto the places where I shall appoint unto them by my servant Joseph, and build up cities unto my name, that they may be prepared for that which is in store for a time to come.”
The Saints leaving Nauvoo. They crossed the Mississippi River and entered Iowa, stopping in areas to camp that had previously been settled by the Iowa Saints. From these staging camps, they eventually traveled west to Utah
    We might at this point ask, “What was the time to come?” The answer seems obvious. In five years, the Saints were on their way west to settle in the Salt Lake region, and in order to do so, they had to come through Iowa, using many of these areas and others as staging camps.
    Continuing with the revelation, in verses 3 and 4, the Lord continues: “Let them build up a city unto my name upon the land opposite the city of Nauvoo, and let the name of Zarahemla be named upon it. And let all those who come from the east, and the west, and the north, and the south, that have desires to dwell therein, take up their inheritance in the same, as well as in the city of Nashville, or the city of Nauvoo, and in the stakes which I have appointed, saith the Lord.
Left: Some of the early settlements in the Illinois (right of map) and Iowa (left of map) areas the Lord wanted settled by the Saints; Right: The tracts of land owned by Galland that were purchased by the Church in Iowa and a few across the Mississippi River in Illinois
    Stated differently, the Lord was telling the Saints then, as well as now, that we should be building up cities, communities, and a society that will serve the Lord, and no matter from where we come (or who we are), we should “take up our inheritance” in the kingdom of God in that city (wherein we dwell), whether it be in Iowa, or anywhere else in the land. That is, no matter where we live, no matter in what city, no matter what the name of that city where we dwell, we should consider it our inheritance in the kingdom of God and build it up to the Lord through our devoted service to Him.
    This short, four-verse section deals with what the Lord wanted the Saints located in the Territory of Iowa to do in March, 1841. Zarahemla, is indeed, mentioned in this section, but in the same sentence the Lord also names the city of Nashville and the city of Nauvoo, both along the Mississippi. Is this to mean there was a Nashville and a Nauvoo in the Book of Mormon that we know nothing about? Clearly, this idea about naming a city Zarahemla had nothing to do with the location of the original City of Zarahemla in the Book of Mormon, for that city was near the west sea, where the Mulekites landed (Omni 1:16). There never was a West Sea near Nauvoo or Nashville. It was also just north of the high valleys within higher mountains as shown by 1) the Lamanites always “going down” to the land of Zarahemla, and also shown when Ammon and his brethren (Amaleki Helem and Hem, among others) “went down into the land of Nephi” from the hill, north of the land of Shilom (Mosiah 7:5-6).
    Knowing and understand the historical background of this revelation should show, even to the casual reader, that the name of Zarahemla applied to the original town of Nashville, Iowa, was merely a name, though of great significance in Book of Mormon times, was here not applied to any significance of its location—just the re-use of an earlier important name.

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