The Mormon tie to our area is strong thanks to Joseph Smith. Smith was an American religious leader and founder of the Latter Day Saints movement which gave rise to Mormonism. At age 24, Smith published the Book of Mormon and in the next fourteen years he gathered thousands of followers, built cities and temples, and created a religious culture.

In 1831, Smith and his followers moved west and established an outpost in Independence , Missouri. In 1837 a bank established by Smith and other church leaders collapsed causing widespread defections.

Smith and his followers were expelled from Independence by Missourians alarmed at the rapid growth of Mormon communities. The Mormons eventually were expelled from the state, and Smith and his followers settled to the north of Quincy in Nauvoo, Illinois.

In 1844, an article appeared in the local paper criticizing Smith’s theocratic aspirations and his practice of polygamy. Three days later the Nauvoo City Council ordered the paper’s destruction, precipitating a call to arms of non-Mormons who feared Smith’s growing power.

During the ensuing turmoil, Smith was imprisoned and killed along with his brother, Hiram Smith, by a mob in Carthage, Illinois 173 years ago today.