Nauvoo: “The worst enemy we found here. . .”

I’ve spent a good deal of time in libraries and archives reading journals and histories of people who lived near where my ancestors lived.  Theodore Turley and his family lived in Nauvoo, where they were the Prophet Joseph Smith’s neighbors.

Sometimes I read things in the journals of others that changes me and how much I love my ancestors.  A man named Joseph Lee Robinson who also lived close to Joseph and to the river made such a journal entry, describing the living conditions in Nauvoo in those days.  I have never forgotten his words.    My great-great grandmother, Charlotte Turley was born in Nauvoo in 1840.  I often think of her curled up in her bed at night and wonder.

Long-tailed rat

Joseph Lee Robinson Journal:
“When we arrived in the city of Nauvoo [Aug 1841], I soon found my brother Ebenezer. He had a house for us to go to. It was a big log house near his printing office. Ebenezer was the printer for the church. He was writing the Church Organ, so had built a large two-story house. The top floor was used for his home and the bottom for the printing press. It was near the river, not far from the Prophet Joseph’s home. The worst enemy we found here was the long-tailed rat, that would bite the lips and nose of our little children while they slept.” (Page 6)

This map shows the properties of the Robinson family, Joseph’s Mansion House, and the Turley family:

Nauvoo, TT plot block 147-4

Below is a page from the Hancock County 1840 Nauvoo census showing Theodore living right next to the Smith family.

Nauvoo 1840 census close up

Turley, Theodore Nauvoo 1840 US Census

DHC 3:375 June 11. 1939 … About this time Elder Theodore Turley raised the first house built by the Saints in this place (Commerce); it was built of logs. about 25 or 30 rods north north-east of my dwelling, on the north-east corner of lot 4. Block 147, of the White Purchase.

Jensen History Record
June 1839 – Theodore Turley raised the first house built by the Saints in Commerce, on Lot 4. Block 147, of the White Purchase, on the corner of what afterwards were named Water and Carlin Streets, on the same block upon which Joseph afterwards built the Nauvoo Mansion.

Ida Blum July 15,1961
Turley home was owned by Christian Walter family and was razed in 1934. The two story brick house on the mid-east side was taxed for both personal property and land evaluation.

Nauvoo TT Home site

Joseph Smith Ledger A. page 199 February 1842 – September 1842
DHC 5:300 March 10, 1843 I told Theodore Turley that I had no objection to his building a brewery.

Nauvoo Neighbor December 27.1843
Theodore Turley begs leave to inform the inhabitants of Nauvoo and vicinity, that he has constantly on hand a supply of Ale, Beer and Yeast of the best quality for sale, both wholesale and retail, at his Brewery, corner of Hyde and Water Streets.
N.B. Whiskey, Beer and Cider Barrells taken in exchange for Beer and Ale.Nauvoo Map

Nauvoo historical buildingsNauvoo map JS HomeNauvoo town plat map

Here are some photos, old and restored, of the Joseph Smith Homestead and the Nauvoo Mansion House, which were situated near Theodore Turley’s family home and brewery.Nauvoo Homestead 2012Above Joseph Smith Homestead in 2012, below 2013.Nauvoo JS Homestead 2013Below: Joseph Smith Homestead 1900.Nauvoo JS Homestead 1900

Nauvoo JS homeAbove,the Mansion House today, below undated.Nauvoo Mansion House


Theodore Turley Commemoration June 24, 2014 

Theodore Turley built the first Latter-Day Saint home in Nauvoo. Though the home does not remain, the spirit does. Theodore Turley was representative of so many early settlers who planted roots deep in Nauvoo’s soil. On June 24th in Nauvoo, family members enjoyed a unique opportunity to commemorate Theodore Turley’s efforts, as well as the efforts of the thousands of early saints who settled there.

TT Nauvoo Commemoration 24 June 2014TT Nauvoo Commemoration 24 June 2014. 1

TT Nauvoo Commemoration 24 June 2014. 2


A commemorative tree planting was part of the event with Richard Turley planting the first tree (a hybrid English and American Oak), representing the many early settlers who planted roots deep in Nauvoo’s soil.  Photo below courtesy of Tom Simpson Photography.

tree planting commemorating theodore turley in nauvoo photo by tom simpson



About Ann Laemmlen Lewis

Thank you for visiting! I hope you enjoy the things shared here.
This entry was posted in Family History. Bookmark the permalink.

Leave a Reply