Chapter VI, The Mormon Period, by Thomas Gregg


I grew up in Hancock County, Illinois, in a corner of the county diagonal from Nauvoo. Though the Mormon history in Nauvoo was short, there is an anti-Mormon bias in the county to this day. With the dedication of the replacement temple on June 27, 2002, Hancock County residents have become curious about the events related to Joseph Smith in the 19th century.

Nauvoo Temple

Nauvoo Temple*

The 1880 edition of the History of Hancock County contains a chapter about the Mormon period written by Thomas Gregg. Hancock County residents have heard of the book and copies of the book go for as much as $1,000 at auctions. There is also a tale in Hancock County that large quantities of the book were procured by the Mormons and destroyed. I have no proof of the rumor.

Hancock County citizens have heard the story from a Mormon point of view. They would also like to read a version prepared outside of the Mormon tradition.

Kibbe Museum

Kibbe Museum**

Gregg's interpretation of history is that Joseph Smith escaped to Illinois from Missouri custody where he was being held on a murder charge. There were several attempts by Missouri to extradite him but, whenever an arrest was made, a Mormon court in Nauvoo would release him. Eventually several leaders of the Mormon church exposed Smith in a Nauvoo newspaper that was then destroyed at Smith's insistence. He then gave orders to his army to fight off the state's militia should they intervene. Because of the orders, the prophet was arrested on the charge of treason. While in jail in Carthage, Illinois, soldiers from nearby Warsaw attempted to kidnap him and to take him to the Missouri authorities. Smith's associates smuggled arms into the jail that he used to initiate a gun battle with the kidnappers. During the exchange of bullets, he was killed.

If you click here, you will be taken to a table of contents of the 1880 history. From the table you can select portions of the history to read. You will also find pictures of present day Hancock County.

The copy of the history used in these pages was purchased from the Kibbe Museum. There is no copyright notice on the material. Occasionally you will find current day pictures of Hancock County incorporated in the pages that follow.

The staff at Kibbe Museum describes Thomas Gegg as mildly anti-Mormon. The history utilizes sources from both anti- and pro-Mormon perspectives. Gregg then interprets the evidence he collected. Gregg does not white wash the citizens of Hancock County.

  Title Page

Joseph Smith

Title Page

Joseph Smith

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*This is the New Nauvoo temple dedicated on June 27, 2002.

**The Kibbe Museum is located across the street from the old jail in Carthage, Illinois.

HOME 2002, Ken Bowles, September 30, 2010, Edition

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