Nauvoo, the City on the Hill or the City of Joseph it was called, was built by members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Visitors in the 1840’s were amazed at the lovely homes and shops they saw in this “ frontier town” just east of Montrose, Ill.

Then their leader was assassinated and the mobs came after the families peacefully living there. The mobs burned their temple that was so costly to build. Brigham Young decided they should go where no one would bother them, to the Rocky Mountains, the Salt Lake Valley. They loaded their wagons and crossed the Mississippi River on the ice or on ferries and started their mile trek. Young, who was called the American Moses, planned for farms and crops and shelters along the way so that those who came after would have sustenance. They arrived in the Salt Lake Valley on July 24, 1847.

 Since it was Sunday, they did no work except to mark where the new temple would be built. Although they were told by trappers and explorers that no crops would grow in that no man’s land, eventually, they made the desert bloom like a rose. They had a saying in the West that when two men met they would sit down and have a beer. If two Mormons met they would plant a tree and build a dam.

The youth of the Fort Walton Beach Stake just finished a year of studying Church History and 98 of them from eight congregations left July 7 and traveled by bus to see first-hand Nauvoo, the City on the Hill, which had been restored. Even the temple was rebuilt. They saw colorful pageants, singing and dancing, boot making, book binding, gun making, brick making, blacksmith shops and much more in only three days.

Conner Christopherson, one of those making the trip, felt that the most spiritual place was Carthage Jail where Joseph Smith and his brother Hyrum were shot dead and fell into the courtyard below. Holly Tew and Paul Lawson are the youth leaders in the stake which involves eight congregations.

“The youth were enlightened as they visited the historical sites and learned the history and sacrifices of the early Saints, in particular our prophet Joseph Smith and his brother Hyrum, whose testimonies were sealed with their untimely deaths at Carthage Jail," Lawson said about the ambitious undertaking. "They were uplifted as they participated in sacred ordinances inside the newly rebuilt Holy Temple. The musical productions presented by missionaries and volunteers of the Nauvoo Pageant delighted hundreds with song, dance and stories of courage, faith and testimony.”

They all agreed it would be an experience they would remember for the rest of their lives.