On Thursday afternoon we left home and drove up to Independence, Missouri to start our church history family vacation. Before leaving, I put together this "On the Trail" book for us to follow and learn about the church's history. We earn little pieces whenever we visit a historical site and put them on the map to complete the trail. The kids are loved it! We didn't get to visit the first historical sites in New York, Ohio and Pennsylvania so we just read the lessons and earned the pieces that way.
Here is the front of the book. I printed off pages from "The Friend" magazine and laminated them.
The back of the book.
Each little piece had a spot on the map and the kids loved figuring out where each puzzle piece went.
And this is one of the pages inside the book that had a history lesson about the site we visited or learned about.
We started our church history tour at the Independence Visitor Center. The Independence Visitors’ Center is built on a portion of land that the Church once purchased to establish the center place of Zion. We explored the entry area where Tanner discovered Books of Mormon in every language they the church has printed them in. He loved it!
The a sister missionary took us around the Visitor Center and gave us a tour. We started the tour in a mock cabin depicting the life of early saints in Missouri. We heard a dramatization while inside the cabin and the kids loved exploring it.
Then we saw the recreated printing office made to depict the W.W. Phelps Printing Office.
Tanner loved the little "book of commandments" the Missionary showed us. At the W. W. Phelps & Co. printing office, the church printed a few issues of the "Morning Star" periodical and the "Book of Commandments".
Then we played for a while in the play area. The kids loved the play horse and wagon.
And this little cabin was so cute to play in. They loved this play area and we all enjoyed the visitor center. We learned a lot about church history and the kids did pretty good.
The sweet kids love learning about history and it was fun to share so of our church's history with them.
Then we drove like 25 minutes down the road to Liberty, Missouri and visited Liberty Jail.
In the late 1830s, dissension within the Church and persecution from outside the Church frustrated the Saints’ efforts to establish Zion. For about four months during that time, the Prophet Joseph Smith was imprisoned in Liberty, Missouri, with his brother Hyrum and others.
Another Sister Missionary took us on a tour of the recreated Liberty jail. This was a pretty powerful experience. We watched a short movie about the prophet's time in Liberty jail and then we got to go in a listen to a dramatization.
The bottom part of the jail was where the prophet and others were kept. It was freezing and the conditions were terrible. I can't even imagine. We learned that the four months in the snug jail proved a daunting experience. Four-foot-thick stone walls, a six-foot ceiling, and constant harassment by guards caused Joseph and his companions to describe the structure as “hell surrounded with demons.”The detainees were placed in the lower-level dungeon, where temperatures dropped, light dimmed, odors reeked, and time seemed to slow. Only “dirty straw couches” prevented the prisoners from sleeping on the stone floor, but even those wore out after a while.
The food sickened the prisoners. Joseph and his companions described their daily meals as “very coarse and so filthy that we could not eat it until we were driven to it by hunger.” When the prisoners finally ate their servings, the food caused them to vomit “almost to death.” Some of the detainees suspected the guards of poisoning their food and water or even feeding them human flesh.
But as we learned from Bro. Joseph's revelations in Doctrine & Covenants- “My son peace be unto thy soul thine adversity and thy afflictions shall be but a small moment and then if thou endure it well God shall exalt thee on high thou shalt triumph over all [thy] foes.” The Lord also assured Joseph that “if the very jaws of hell shall gap[e] open her mouth wide after thee know thou my son that all these things shall give thee experience and shall be for thy good. The son of man hath descended below them all art thou greater than he?”
Prophet Joseph Smith's faith is amazing and I can't imagine the pain he endured. Such an amazing man.
That night we ate a nice dinner at "Texas Roadhouse" and then drove another 1 1/2 hours towards Nauvoo and got a hotel for the night.
The next morning we hit the road early and arrived at Carthage jail around 10 am. We had a long wait before getting to tour Carthage jail so we played outside. The weather was amazing. Seriously, I've been to Nauvoo three times and I couldn't believe how nice the weather was. We happily played outside together while we waited.
The grounds around the jail are beautiful and shaded and we made up lots of games to keep us entertain while we were there.
The dramatization at Carthage jail makes me cry every time. Such a sad history. The loss of the Prophet Joseph Smith and Hyrum Smith was such a devastating blow to the church as a whole.
June 27, 1844, a mob murdered the Prophet Joseph Smith and his brother Hyrum. Several days earlier, the Prophet and others voluntarily went to Carthage, the county seat located about 20 miles southeast of Nauvoo, to answer charges of civil disturbance. Joseph and Hyrum were held in Carthage Jail pending trial and were guaranteed protection from mob violence by the governor of Illinois. Joseph, Hyrum, John Taylor, and Willard Richards were in the jailer's upstairs bedroom when a mob stormed the jail shortly after five o'clock. The Prophet and his brother were shot and killed, John Taylor was seriously wounded, and Willard Richards escaped unharmed. The mob fled, and the martyrs' bodies were taken back to Nauvoo the next day.
To commemorate the sesquicentennial of the Martyrdom in 1994, the jail was restored to its appearance at the time of Joseph and Hyrum's death. Now you can tour it and learn all about the Prophet's time at the jail.
This is the window the prophet fell from when he was shot.
I think the kids did pretty well and they asked questions during the tour. We learned a lot while at the jail and after our tour we grabbed a quick lunch at Dairy Queen- one of the only restaurants in Carthage.
Then we drove the 30 minutes over to Nauvoo and explored there. When we drove into the city we went straight to the temple to see it and look around the city. Nanny and Papa were in Nauvoo for a wedding and we were waiting to see them after the reception. But as we drove past the temple, we saw them walking the temple grounds. We were able to say hi to them before they headed to the luncheon and reception.
We visited the Nauvoo brickyard and saw a brick making demonstration.
Then we went to the Webb Brothers Blacksmith Shop. We saw a demonstration about wagon wheel construction. Turned out, our ancestor- Chauncey Webb- owned this shop and he was the one who made Brigham Young's wagon before the saints exodus to Utah.
We also saw where they held the oxen while they nailed on their shoes. We also got a mini horseshoe from the demonstration and "prairie diamond" rings.
These "prairie diamond" rings are what some of the saints used because the couldn't afford diamonds. They are horse shoe nails bent into a ring and stretched to different sizes.
Then we visited the Family Living Center- this is such a cool place. There are missionaries there giving demonstrations of different 19 century trades. We saw rope making, spinning and candle dipping. The kids loved getting to help make the rope.
Cute kids tied up in the rope they made.
Then we went to our hotel and checked into our room. Nanny and Papa were staying just down the hall from us and they were back at the hotel resting. We ate dinner at the buffet at the hotel. We hung out and let the kids rest and play for a while in our hotel room and then went down to the wagons to take a few pictures of the kids in their pioneer clothes.
I love these cute pioneer kids.
How cute are these pioneer babies? I love this picture! Benson was so good. He did great on the drive up to Nauvoo and the historical stops along the way. He was such a champ on this trip.
We had fun taking pictures of the kids in their cute pioneer clothes.
Then we finished the night by driving around and looking at a few more historical stops in Old Nauvoo. We stopped at the Red Brick Store to learn about it too.
In his Red Brick Store at Nauvoo, Illinois, the Prophet Joseph Smith prepared his successors to carry on the "great and mighty work" of God. Originally built in 1841, the store became headquarters for the Church shortly after its completion. A dry goods store was located on the ground floor, and Joseph's office and a meeting hall occupied the upper level. Joseph Smith also organized the Relief Society in this building.
Can we also just take a moment to check out this cute boy in his pioneer clothes.
Tanner is so good with Benson. Love these boys.
Then we went back to our hotel for the night and eventually got the kids to bed. They were so excited and happy to be in Nauvoo. It was kind of adorable.
Then next morning, Chris and I got to go to the temple together. We were able to be the witness couple for an endowment session and we had a wonderful time. The Nauvoo temple is amazingly beautiful.
After our morning at the temple, we met Nanny, Papa and the kids at the "Cultural Hall" for a super cute play called "Just Plain Anna Amanda". The kids loved it . It was a singing show and the music was adorable. The kids were too shy to meet the cast afterwards but they really loved it. There are so many talented missionaries serving in Nauvoo, working together to make these shows possible.
Isn't the cultural hall beautiful? It was used for lots of activities- like dances, music and big social gatherings.
After the show we went back to the hotel so Chris and I could change out of our church clothes. Then we visited the famous Nauvoo Fudge Shop. I remember visiting the shop as kid and so it was fun to take my kids there.
Then we went on a wagon ride. The kids loved meeting the horses.
We had a great time on the wagon tour learning all about "Old Nauvoo".
Benson had a great seat with Nanny and Papa.
We saw the Brigham Young Home- which was a beautiful brick home.
We also saw the blacksmith shop that our ancestors owned and Chancey Webb's home.
We were so lucky to have Nanny and Papa with us at Nauvoo.
After the wagon ride, the kids all enjoyed their treats from the fudge shop.
After that we toured the Scovil Bakery and we all enjoyed a ginger cookie. Then Nanny and I took the kids over to "Pioneer Pastimes" while Chris and Papa toured the browning gun shop.
The kids had the best time at "Pioneer Pastimes".
These three kids had so much fun dressing up in the provided pioneer clothing and playing with the all the pioneer kid games.
The played school in the miniature school house.
Even I tried walking on the stilts. It was a disaster but Tanner found it funny.
Tanner loved playing with the tops.
After Papa and Chris finished their gun shop tour, they went to reserve seats for the pageant.
Then they came back and joined us at the pioneer pastimes. Bailey and Papa played on the stilts together
The boys loved these teddy bears on the ropes. They played for a long time with them.
Tucker really loved this little game. He didn't understand how to play it, but he loved moving the pieces around.
Benson got lots of awesome Nanny snuggles.
Papa and Tanner played stick ball for a long time together. They had so much fun. I love the grin on Tanner's face. So cute!
After playing at "pioneer pastimes" together for a couple hours we decided to go eat dinner at the amazing "Hotel Nauvoo" buffet. The food was so good. After dinner, Nanny and I did a little souvenir shopping. Then we all went back to the hotel to cool off at the pool. Benson loved the indoor pool because it was way warmer than our neighborhood pool at home.
Tanner and Bailey both had a great time playing with Papa in the pool. It was so cute to watch them.
Tucker and Daddy had a great time playing together too. Tucker didn't want to get thrown around or jump in the pool. He mostly just entertained himself by running back and forth between the hot tub and the pool.
And Benson enjoyed laying out in the nice humid pool area.
After the pool we dried off and got dressed and went down to the pageant. They had so many cute pre-pageant activities going on. How cute is this little wooden Nauvoo village?
These three loved all the activities. I wish we would have gotten down to the pageant earlier so we could have played even more.
We did get a wooden yo yo for each of the kids and Tanner loved his!
Benson was giving Nanny all his cute smiles. Adorable!
The pageant was so amazing. My kids were all enthralled and even Benson did well. Tanner and Bailey loved the storyline
This was Tanner's favorite part. He loved when they built the temple on the stage.
Tanner told me after it was over that the pageant was amazing and he couldn't believe they built that temple so fast. lol. Bailey loved all the music and the stories. It was so awesome. I really can't wait to go back.
We got back to our room late on Saturday night after the pageant and the kids were exhausted. But it was such a fun day.
Sunday morning we went to the 9 am sacrament meeting. The chapel was filled to the brim and the overflow. Seriously, I've never seen so many people at one sacrament meeting. It was crazy. So many tourists in Nauvoo!
After church we walked around the temple grounds with the kids and took some pictures.
I love these kids of mine so much. I really can't believe how blessed we are to have them for eternity. How sweet are they on the steps of the temple?
We took a family picture in front of the temple. This picture means everything to me. Our family is eternal because Chris and I were sealed in the temple when we got married. Our kids are forever sealed to us and we can all be together forever because of the blessings of the temple.
We also took a group picture in front of the temple with my parents. I'm so grateful for this time with my parents. They are so fantastic and my kids loved having this fun time with them.
We said goodbye to my parents after the temple and they started their drive home. We drove around a little more before leaving Nauvoo. We saw some of the Community of Christ historic sites- like the Nauvoo House that Joseph and Emma planned to make into a boarding house for people arriving in Nauvoo. Oh and their Mansion house. It's so cool. It's sad that our church doesn't own them anymore, but the Community of Christ church allows tours and are super friendly.
Then we drove down the "Trail of Hope" that ended at the river where the saints boarded the ferries with their handcarts. It's so sad. They picked up and left their beautiful homes and their wonderful city. The city was basically abandoned and so much of the history was lost.
We also saw the Pioneer Memorial, on the walls of the Pioneer Memorial are the names of over 2,000 Latter-day Saints who died along the Mormon Trail. The memorial serves as a silent testament of the faithfulness of the many pioneers who died before their journey was through.
Then we drove over the the temple quarry to see where they cut the stones used for the Nauvoo temple. It was cool to see how far the oxen had to drag the stones so they could be used for the temple. So much work and dedication went into that temple.
We had such an amazing time and enjoyed every minute of our time in Nauvoo. The kids wanted to stay for a couple more days but we had to get home for Chris to get back to work. I can't wait to go back again, maybe when Benson is a little older. It was such a blast and we learned so much. I feel so blessed to have been able to connect with the early saints and have my testimony strengthened.