History of the Church Series | BYU Studies

History of the Church Series

"A Man That You Could Not Help Likeing": Joseph Smith and Nauvoo, Illinois, Portrayed in a Letter by Susannah and George W. Taggart
October 24, 2018
History of the Church Series
"A Man That You Could Not Help Likeing": Joseph Smith and Nauvoo, Illinois, Portrayed in a Letter by Susannah and George W. Taggart
Author Ronald O. Barney,

This daily feature is an introduction to a full article by Ronald O. Barney. Each Wednesday we focus on an aspect of church history, beginning in New York in the early 19th century and progressing throughout the year to Utah in the 20th century. To read the full text of this article, follow the link below.

The Prophet Joseph Smith's call for members of The Church of Jesus Christ Latter-day Saints to gather to Nauvoo, Illinois, had a wide effect once the settlement acquired the trappings of civilization. What had been the obscure riverside village of Commerce soon evidenced expansion and progress: new inhabitants and bustling construction. Among those who gathered to Nauvoo were Washington and Susannah Taggart, who converted to Mormonism in 1841 or 1842 in Peterborough, Hillsborough County, New Hampshire. Taught the gospel by Elder Eli P. Maginn, the Taggarts soon planned their departure for the Mormon capital. Their eldest son, George Washington Taggart, and a younger son, Oliver, also embraced Elder Maginn's teachings of the Restoration. But three sons—Albert, Samuel, and Henry—revolted at what they saw as the family's credulity. The converted Taggarts moved to Nauvoo in mid-1843, while the other three sons remained behind.

The document reproduced here is Susannah and George's letter to those three young men, describing the experiences the converted Taggarts had in Nauvoo. Included in the letter are comments on the unfortunate deaths of father Washington and son Oliver in September 1843, just months after settling in Nauvoo; an appraisal of the city; and, perhaps most significantly, a contemporary description of Joseph Smith.