Sunday, November 18, 2012

Post Office & Merryweather Dry Goods Store

Much of what we know of the life and teachings of Christ that we find in the New Testament comes from letters.  Much of what we know about the early history of the church also comes from letters and journals.  Mail was also very important to the people who lived in Nauvoo.  Many of them were far from home and loved ones.   (So are we, by the way, and would love to get some mail.)

The Post Office was usually combined with another business - as here- with the Merryweather Dry Goods Store.  Sometimes it was in a home.  One of the first in Nauvoo was in Sidney Rigdon's kitchen.  The Post Office was pretty much where ever the sorting boxes were.

The boxes were not assigned to certain people or even families - the Postmaster just used them and his own system for sorting the mail.  That thing on top is a rawhide case for carrying the mail and protecting it from the weather.

But the mail system was not very dependable.  If someone had a really important letter to send, they might send it two or three times to make sure it got there.  It was also quite expensive - 6 cents to go up to 30 miles.  That would only get a letter from Nauvoo to Carthage.  It could cost 25 - 30 cents to go more than 400 miles and that was 1/4 to 1/3 of an average daily wage. 

Since they didn't know for sure if a letter would get to it's destination, they would send it COD.  If a person actually got a letter, he would pay the postage.  This caused a lot of problems for Joseph Smith, however.  He received a LOT of mail - from friends and foes.  He finally had to put an article in the newspaper saying that he would not take any mail out of the post office if the postage was not already paid.  He knew his friends would understand & he wouldn't have to deal with the hate mail from his enemies.

Another way they would cut down the postage rate was by not having envelopes.  That would count as another 6 cent page.  They would only write on one side of the paper and then fold it up, seal it with sealing wax and address the outside.

Since they only wrote on one side of the paper, they would fill the page and then turn the page and write across what they had already written.  It's really hard to read but it's a little easier if you put a plain sheet of paper under each line and move it down as you read.

You don't have to leave the Post Office to go to the store.  Just walk to the other side of the room.

Merryweather Dry Goods Store

Frederick Merryweather came to Nauvoo in 1844 so many of the businesses in town were already established.  He saw a need to provide everyday ordinary items that people needed to help them be self sufficient and take care of their families at reasonable prices.
He provided local pottery,
tools, nails, farm equipment, etc.
There are some interesting things in his store that you may not have seen before.  Can you guess what this is?  Sorry about the glare from the case.
It's a ceramic canteen.  The hole allowed it to be hung over a saddle horn.  They knew even back then that you have to drink more than just water in this heat to replenish nutrients so they made their own "Gatorade".  They called it "Haymaker's Switzel".  Here's the recipe.  Yum!!!
Sounds a bit like sweet and sour sauce to me.
Another interesting item is their version of a chalk line marker.  It's made of wood and has a well that they would fill with berry juice and run a string through it.  Then they would snap the string to make a "berry line".
Kids love to have their picture taken with this water carrier.  We let them put it on (it's VERY uncomfortable) while we tell them that the people in Nauvoo had "running water".  You know - Mom would say "run down to the well and get me some water".
We really love living in the 1840's (with modern conveniences of course) and I'm even starting to like these big dresses and aprons.  They really cover up a lot and I'm not sure what I will do with all my "stuff" without these handy pockets when I get home.  




Saturday, November 10, 2012

Print Shop

When John Taylor purchased his home, he also purchased the properties on both sides.  The one on the left was a store but since he was the editor of the newspaper, he thought it would be a good place to move the print shop. 

It had been in the basement of a building down the street, but it was so small, cold, and damp that people were getting sick.  In fact, Don Carlos Smith had come down with pneumonia and died while working there.  That property now belongs to the Community of Christ Church and has not been restored but you can see how small it was.

Originally, the print shop was on the second floor.  It must have taken a lot of work to get those big heavy printing presses up there, but there is a door up there on the back side.
Two newspapers were printed here in Nauvoo.
 The "Nauvoo Neighbor"  was a weekly paper, similar to our little hometown newspaper, and had announcements of meetings, practical advice, poems, stories, and national and world news.
The "Times and Seasons" was the official church publication, similar to the "Ensign" of today.  It included counsel from Church leaders, letters from missionaries, literary works, and accounts of revelations received by the Prophet.
The print shop also did custom jobs like printing handbills and flyers.
Doing a tour of the print shop is really fun because you get to do a demonstration of how the printing process worked. 
They would only work on one paragraph at a time, and make a "proof" so they could read it and make any corrections that needed to be made, then move on to the next paragraph.  We relate this to repenting of our little mistakes every day - before they turn into big ones. 
There are a lot of terms that we use all the time but I had no idea they came from the printing business.  For example:  Upper case letters were stored in an "upper case" - lower case letters were stored in a "lower case". 


A "ding bat" is a pretty little thing that takes up space.
"Furniture" (little blocks of wood - not tables and chairs) and "spacers" are used to hold the type in the "chase" (cut to the chase) and the "quoin key" tightens it all up (quoin a phrase).

Everything has to be secured in the "chase" upside down and backwards.
When it's ready, you carry it to the press and "lay it to rest" on the "coffin".
 Use a "dauber" to dab ink onto the type.
Put a damp sheet of newsprint paper over it and fold the "frisket" down over the "tympan".  Roll it all under the "platen" and pull the lever to lower the "platen".  The paper is pressed against the inked type to make an impression. 
Then, raise the "platen", roll it back, lift the "frisket" and take the sheet of paper off, hang it up to dry for 24 hours or so, and then start all over with the reverse side. 
And don't forget to mind your "p's & q's" or they'll end up looking like "d's & b's".




Friday, November 2, 2012

"Bootiful Nauvoo"

"Bootiful Nauvoo"

Halloween has never been my favorite holiday, but Nauvoo really knows how to do it up right.  And they don't even do it on the actual date, they do it on the last Saturday in October. 

First, missionaries donate candy and then help bag it up ahead of time.  Then for the week before the big event, the mission greenhouse is turned into a giant pumpkin carving factory.  There are some really amazing artists in town and they draw some simple and some more complicated designs on over 500 pumpkins and then missionaries and townspeople come for several days whenever they have a little "free time" to carve the pumpkins.


Then they loaded them all up on flatbed trucks.
Then someone spends all day Saturday lining the streets uptown with all the pumpkins.
Saturday night there were people selling food up and down the street but we gave away our previously bagged up candy . . .
. . . and the best tasting kettle corn in the entire universe.  
Our Elders made it in a big pot right there on the street.
Then there was a parade - lots of kids and adults in costumes. 

I loved the cute little train.
And Micky and Minnie.
 And our very own missionary "crazy band".

 But best of all were the pumpkins.  They were everywhere.  Pumpkins lined both sides of the street for several blocks.  This is just a small sample.

We didn't have time to get around to all of them because we had a performance of Rendezvous afterward, but here's one that Elder K. carved - the Count from Sesame Street (on the left).

Besides the 500 plus pumpkins we helped to carve, the artists carved some special ones for an auction.  I'm not sure what the auction was for, but the pumpkins were amazing. 

And my favorite.
It was a very enjoyable holiday, and we will get to do it again next year - just before we go home.