It was nearly a year after the martyrdom of Joseph and Hyrum Smith that action was initiated to construct the Nauvoo Tabernacle. The need for the tabernacle had not decreased with the death of Joseph Smith. On Sunday, 7 April 1844, Joseph Smith delivered the funeral discourse of King Follett before an assembly of 8,000 Saints. Such a large assembly was uncommon, but smaller assemblies were addressed regularly by the Church leaders in a grove below the Temple. All too frequently these discourses were either cut short or postponed because of inclement weather. Realizing that the Saints would need a large, sheltered area in which to assemble, the Prophet gave instructions (presumably to the Quorum of the Twelve) that a canvas tabernacle be constructed for that purpose.
Elder Hyde left for the East about 17 June 1845, for in a letter to Wilford Woodruff dated 27 June Brigham Young said that Orson Hyde had left about ten days earlier to obtain cloth for the tabernacle and that Howard Egan had gone “to St. Louis to buy about 125 dollars worth of hemp to make cords for it.” The most probable route taken by Orson Hyde to New York was by boat from Nauvoo to St. Louis; by boat to Pittsburg and Wheeling, Virginia; across the Allegheny Mountains by stage to Wilmington, Delaware; from there by rail first to Philadelphia and then to the city of New York. The journey took about twenty-three days. Elder Orson Pratt was presiding over the eastern Saints when Orson Hyde arrived.