Tuesday, April 4, 2017

HANNAH KNIGHT LIBBY - Part 22 - Leaving Nauvoo For The West

The time has come to discuss the momentous event of Hannah leaving Nauvoo to go west with the Mormons in early 1846.  There is no detailed account of the family at that time, so we are left to piece together what exactly transpired with only few records to assist us. 

The specifics of what transpired within the Carter family are best seen in context of events that transpired at Nauvoo between the death of Joseph Smith on 27 June 1844 and February, 1846 when the Carters probably left for the west.  The following paragraphs are taken from an article at the web site “Stay in Nauvoo” (http://www.beautifulnauvoo.com/nauvoo-s-mormon-history.html) entitled Nauvoo during the Mormon period (1839 – 1846):

At the death of Joseph Smith the county was gripped in terror in fear of Mormon retaliation. Instead of retaliating, the City of Nauvoo was silent. With the Mormons not returning action, and the governor having gone back to Springfield, the Anti-Mormon Party organized a series of raids against outlying Mormon settlements. By the summer of 1845 the hostilities had progressed to shooting on both sides, and armed groups were again roaming Hancock County. With his immediate attention focused on another outbreak of violence in the southern part of the state, Governor Ford called out the State Militia to again quell the hostilities. This time the Mormons, now under the leadership of Brigham Young, agreed to leave the state and abandon Nauvoo the coming spring.

With their temple nearly completed, the Mormons began to put it to use in the winter of 1845-46. In February of 1846 word came to Brigham Young from Governor Ford that the United States Army might try to prevent the Mormon exodus from Nauvoo into Indian, British or Mexican territory. Fearing his people would be trapped, Young ordered many of the community's leaders to immediately evacuate the city, with the majority of the Saints to follow when the weather was better.

Throughout the spring and summer of 1846, there was a continual procession of wagons crossing the Mississippi River on anything that could get them across. By September the town that had once been home to more than 20,000 people had been reduced to less than 2,000. Impatient to get the remainder of the Mormons from Nauvoo, the Anti-Mormon Party again marshaled their forces and attacked the city that now had only the poorest and weakest Mormons and approximately 200 new citizens. A full-scale battle ensued, with cannon, rifle, and musket called into use. After two days of battle, a peace delegation from Quincy arranged the terms of surrender for the City of Nauvoo. Given an hour to pack what belongings they could, the remaining Mormons were forced from Nauvoo at the point of bayonet.

The destruction of Morleyville by the mob on September 10, 1845 resulted in the burning of the homes in the community proper.  Morleyville encompassed the community and scattered farms in the adjoining area of the county.  Many of these scattered farms were probably spared destruction by the mob due to their isolation.  The Carters appear to be in that group.  Though they appear to have fled to Nauvoo following the September mob action they eventually moved back.  They were back in their homes but safety was not assured.  In fact, the LDS members of the family needed to flee Nauvoo for good while they could.  Staying on their land was not really an option, so the only real question was when they would leave.

As the new year of 1846 dawned Hannah and her children had serious decisions to make.  A major choice all the LDS members of the Carter family had to make was if they would remain in Nauvoo and risk their lives while they waited for their opportunity to take out their Endowments and to be sealed to their spouses in the newly opened Nauvoo temple.   This was risky as the mobs roamed freely and, if the U. S. government moved, they might be forced to stay in Nauvoo.  Many of the family members had now built two temples and surely the thought of leaving Nauvoo without the benefit of going through the temple was not really an option.  Once they left Nauvoo they had no idea if they would ever see another temple built in their life time – so at this point of time the decision to attend the temple was a “now or never” proposition.

The Nauvoo Temple today
Hannah’s LDS children each took advantage of attending the Nauvoo temple:
                                    Endowment Date           Sealing to Spouse Date
Dominicus Carter           22 Dec 1845                   13 Jan 1846
Hannah                          20 Jan 1846                    13 Mar 1856 (in Utah)
William Furlsbury           20 Jan 1846                    28 Jan 1846
John H                           23 Jan 1846                    25 Jan 1848 (Winter Quarters)
Eliza Ann                       22 Dec 1845                     3 Feb 1846
Richard                            7 Feb 1846                     3 Nov 1882 (Utah – after his death)

Hannah, herself, had two decisions to make in relation to the temple – one was simple and the other would be difficult.  Following Dominicus’ and Eliza’s trips to the temple on 22 Dec 1845, Hannah became the third member of the family to be endowed when she attended the temple on 10 Jan 1846.  Her next decision relating to the temple requires some explanation. 

When the doctrine of temple work was first revealed to the early members of the LDS Church, the system differed a little from what we understand it to be today.  Baptism for the dead was the only ordinance that was in effect for the ancestors of the early Saints.  The endowment and sealings of couples were performed only for the living – not the dead.  Hannah was in a quandary with regards to the sealing ordinance.  Her husband John would not join the Church so she would be unable to partake of the sealing ordinance and the thus would not be able to enter the fullness of the Celestial Kingdom in the afterlife, as that ordinance is essential to a person’s progress back to their Father-in-Heaven’s presence. This was the period of time during which polygamy was practiced.  One offshoot of that practice was for women who were unmarried, widowed, or married to a non-member to be “sealed” to a leader of the Church.  This wasn’t intended to be a marriage ceremony as we would view it today, but was done so these women would be able to benefit from the eternal blessings of having this ordinance.   Though the couple wouldn’t live together as a married couple it would be expected that the man would look after the welfare of the woman until she died.

This has been a much-misunderstood situation in the Carter family.  Rumors have circulated that John and Hannah divorced and John remarried prior to his death.  John surely wasn’t happy with what happened but there is no evidence that he and Hannah divorced.  In fact, this researcher, has found no evidence that Hannah and Isaac ever lived together or even lived in the same community.  In fact, it appears that Hannah spent the rest of her life with or near her eldest child, Dominicus.

So why was it that she was sealed to Isaac Morley?  Isaac had been influential with the Carter family since at least the Missouri days.  The children, at least, had fled Missouri with Isaac and settled in Morleyville with his family.  He became the civil and Church leader of the community.  Isaac was the patriarch in the Morleyville area and gave Hannah her patriarchial blessings (she actually had two).  Understanding this, it is easy to see why Isaac would be willing to be sealed to Hannah, which ordinance was performed on 22 Jan 1846 – two days after she was endowed in the Nauvoo temple.

Once these trips to the temple were completed it was time to depart their beautiful city.  We have no absolute dates of departure nor do we know if they left together.  In other life stories, it is mentioned that Hannah left Nauvoo with Dominicus and his family.  Since she was sealed to Isaac on January 22nd it can be inferred that they couldn’t leave before then.  Her last child to be endowed in the Nauvoo temple was Richard on February 7th.  It is probable that most of the family left shortly after that, if they hadn’t already left.  Interestingly Isaac’s life story mentions that his family left Nauvoo in February.  The one exception to all of this was William.  Sarah was pregnant at the time and gave birth to Sarah Melissa on 13 April 1846 in Nauvoo.  They probably left shortly thereafter and were probably the last of the Carters to leave Nauvoo.

Leaving Nauvoo in the dead of winter over the frozen Mississippi River
Leaving Nauvoo after the spring thaw

Leaving Nauvoo had to be a heartbreaking experience for Hannah.  She was leaving her husband of forty years and three children behind to never be seen again.  She was leaving the beautiful city of Nauvoo – once a large and vibrant city for the unknown wilds of the West.  Finally, this was during the depths of winter and the cold weather had to make everyone feel even worse along with making the trip treacherous.  Without a doubt, her life for her would never be the same again.

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