NAUVOO, Ill. For the last several years, interest has increased in the history of the Latter-day Saints' exodus from Nauvoo beginning in February 1846.
Hundreds participated in this year's annual commemoration, which included musical and theatrical productions and an early morning breakfast and "Pioneer Walk" on Feb. 4, the anniversary which marked the departure of the first wagons from Nauvoo 159 years earlier. Parley Street was lined with people dressed in pioneer attire, and creaking wagons pulled by horses and oxen rolled toward the icy banks of the Mississippi River.
A senior missionary now serving in Nauvoo related a story of his ancestor who almost left in the first company. "As my grandfather Mulliner was preparing to join that first group leaving Nauvoo, he purchased a team of horses, fitted them with his own handmade harnesses and prepared his wagon," said Elder Paul Mulliner. "When all was ready, Brigham Young, a dear friend, approached him and asked, 'Samuel, would you be willing to stay in Nauvoo for a while? Your skills are needed, and I would ask you to give up your team to a couple from England who have no way to earn a wagon for themselves.' My grandfather merely stepped off his wagon, handed the reins over to Brigham, not only once, but on three different occasions. He did make it to Utah and had a long, happy life."
Exodus commemoration activities extended from Feb. 3 through Feb. 9. An important part was a fireside presented by Sheri Dew, a former member of the Relief Society general presidency and current president and CEO of Deseret Book Co. "There is a certain strength gained each time we visit Nauvoo," she said. "We find reservoirs of courage as we get in our wagons each day and face our own mountains. Don't let your personal lives be weighted with unnecessary baggage. Move on. Make your own time on earth a spectacular, inspired, obedient experience."