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. . . before Commerce, . . . there was VENUS,
the exact location of Joseph Smith's first
residence in that area . . .
HERE is the most popular traveler's map of the 1830s, designed to be carried in your pocket without damage. It is just the sort of thing which the best-equipped Mormon refugees from Missouri would have had in their hands as they attempted to navigate their way through sparsely-settled Illinois:
THE TOURIST'S POCKET MAP OF THE STATE OF ILLINOIS, Exhibiting its Internal Improvements Roads Distances &c. By J. H. Young. Philadelphia: Published by S. Augustus Mitchell. 1837. Sold by Mitchell & Hinman, No. 6 North Fifth Street Philada.
At bottom: "Entered according to Act of Congress in the year 1834 by S. Augustus Mitchell in the . . . eastern district of Pennsylvania. Engraved by E. F. Woodward."
Map unfolds to approx. 39 X 33 cm. (15½ X 12¾ inches). Original 1830s hand-coloring in pastel tones.
IN EXCEPTIONAL CONDITION, INSIDE AND OUT. I doubt that any much nicer example could exist anywhere. Neither the map nor its cover needs or has undergone any repair at any time, so far as I can determine.
Attached inside the original dark green gilt-decorated roan leather case (simply "boards" forming a front and back cover opening like a book from which the map folds out in one sheet) with gilt title panel on front board, reading: "Mitchell's Map of Illinois." Case is 12¼ X 7¾ cm. (about 4¾ X 3 inches). Inside front board filled with a printed slip explaining "Public Lands" with small printed section diagram scheme. With an old penciled price and acquisition notes: "1837 CXY" and "11/49 SO" which I believe is the handwriting of famed Americana bibliographer Wright Howes (author of the standard bibliography, U.S.iana, first published 1954 and still essential today).
First published 1834. Simple township divisions within counties. Population table by counties shows Hancock with 483 people in 1830. Includes inset showing "Map of the Lead Mine Region East of the Mississippi River" at the junction of Illinois, "Ouisconsin T.," and Missouri Territory.
Shows Venus (no Commerce or Carthage yet) and Warsaw. West across river from Hancock Co. is "Part of Missouri Territory." North of Illinois is small portion of "Ouisconsin Ter."
VENUS, ILLINOIS, was a tiny post office hamlet established March 13, 1830 in response to a petition by James White and other county commissioners. "At that time," explains Glen M. Leonard, "Hancock County had only five hundred scattered residents." (Nauvoo, A Place of Peace, A People of Promise [SLC, Deseret Book, 2002], p. 48.
Local landowners Alexander White and Joseph Teas surveyed a townsite and recorded it in county records as Venus. They sold a dozen or so lots, but their expectations of a growing city did not materialize. By 1834, prospects for growth looked better, so White and Teas expanded their plat for Venus along the river northward and renamed it Commerce, a moniker reflecting hope for economic growth. Twenty-four of the town's 144 lots fronted the river, an appropriate location for keelboating and warehousing enterprises. Further expansion was possible, because the proprietors owned much of the adjoining land. The county approved the surveyor's plat in May . The name Venus gradually dropped out of use after Commerce became the sole mailing address for the peninsula. [Leonard, p. 51]
When Joseph Smith first arrived in the area, he moved onto White Family property at the original Venus portion of the peninsula which would later be known generally as Nauvoo . . .
In late April , the Prophet led a party north from Quincy to examine available lands on both sides of the Mississippi. On May 1, at Commerce, the men purchased the farms of Hugh White and Isaac Galland near the south end of the peninsula. . . . White turned over his small log house to Joseph Smith, while Galland gave up his two-story stone residence to Sidney Rigdon.
The Prophet moved Emma and their four children into the log house on May 10, "hoping that I and my friends may here find a resting place for a little season at least." . . .
. . . . .
Nauvoo would be the last name given to a place that had previously been known informally to the Indians as Quashquema, to the traders as the "head of the rapids," and to the early settlers as Venus and then Commerce. [Leonard, pp. 57, 59]
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