church history, mormon history, latter-day saints, cemetery records


When John Butler first visited Commerce (later known as Nauvoo) he recalled, "I asked Brother Joseph what kind of a place it was. He said it was a low, marshy, wet, damp and nasty place, but that if we went to work and improved it, it would become more healthy and the Lord would bless it for our sakes." The Prophet Joseph Smith also stated, "the name of our city (Nauvoo) is of Hebrew origin, and signifies a beautiful situation, or place, carrying with it, also, the idea of rest; and is truly descriptive of the most delightful situation... This place has been objected to by some, on account of the sickness which has prevailed in the summer months." Yet Joseph expressed his hope that such sickness could be "remedied by draining the sloughs in the adjacent island in the Mississippi." The Saints did drain the swampy terrain of Nauvoo, but the call of death continued. A Nauvoo cemetery record kept by William Dresser Huntington during the years 1839-1846, evidences that although malaria appears to be the most prevalent disease in Nauvoo, there were several other types of sickness and illness which brought many Nauvoo Saints to an early death.

Original Publication Citation

Fred E. Woods, "Nauvoo Cemetery Record of William D. Huntington, Nauvoo Sexton," Mormon Historical Studies 3, no. 1 (Spring 2002): 131-63.

Document Type

Peer-Reviewed Article

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Mormon Historical Studies




Religious Education


Church History and Doctrine